Malaysia sorry after coronavirus tips for women spark anger

A woman walks past a closed shop during the Movement Control Order, limiting the activities of people in Malaysia as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in Kuala Lumpur on March 31, 2020. (AFP)

Malaysia’s government apologized Tuesday after its advice for women to wear make-up and not nag their husbands during the country’s coronavirus lockdown sparked online anger and mockery.

Like many countries, the Southeast Asian nation has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of the virus, which has killed over 30,000 people globally.

In a series of Facebook posts, the Malaysian women’s ministry offered tips for how wives should behave during the lockdown.

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One post - now deleted - showed a picture of a couple hanging up clothes together next to a caption that advised women to “avoid nagging” their husbands and to imitate the squeaky voice of Doraemon, a cartoon robot cat from Japan that is popular across Asia.

Other posts advised women working at home to wear make-up and dress neatly, rather than in casual clothes.

Social media lit up with anger and disbelief at the posts, with one asking “how will dressing up and putting on make-up at home (prevent) COVID-19? Pray, tell?”

The women’s ministry apologized, conceding the posts may have offended some people, and said it would “remain cautious in future.”

But it insisted the suggestions were merely aimed at “maintaining positive relationships among family members during the period they are working from home.”

There have been fears of a surge in domestic violence worldwide as the stress caused by confinement and job insecurity increases the likelihood of conflicts.

A government-run helpline in Malaysia for vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse, has seen an increase in calls of more than 50 percent since the start of the lockdown on March 18, local media reported.

Last Update: 06:54 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54