The recent revelation made by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) on the cases of suicides recorded between January to May 2021, which amounted to 468, has turned the spotlight on the rising number of suicides amid the pandemic. In comparison to the annual total of 631 cases in 2020 and 609 cases in 2019, which averaged about two cases per day, this year, the average cases per day have almost doubled.
According to PDRM, the main reasons behind these incidents had been financial difficulties caused by debt, emotional pressure, and troubled family relationships.
The Ministry of Health meanwhile stated that in 2020, a total of 1,080 cases of persons who attempted suicide received treatment at government hospitals.
Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, issuing a statement noted that the pandemic has severely impacted the mental health of people. He had further noted that certain individuals are more susceptible to mental health problems when they are disconnected from their support networks, such as friends and family, due to the ongoing movement control orders, and would experience episodes of depression that could even lead to suicide.
Suicide Is Criminalised In Malaysia
Malaysia being a country with a Muslim majority considers it a sin to take any life including one’s own. Moreover, as an attempt to deter persons from taking their lives, the government has criminalised suicide under Section 309 of the Penal Code, where anyone who attempts to commit suicide and fails would be imprisoned for a term extending up to a year or imposed a fine or will be subjected to imprisonment and imposed a fine.
The law enacted in 1936 originated from the Indian Penal Code that was based on the British Common Law. While many other countries in the region that adopted the Colonial common law has by now repealed or has modified the section, we have yet to follow suite.
The country’s Psychiatric and Mental Health Services Operational Policy, while recognising suicide attempts as a mental health issue that needs treatment, indicates that when an individual who attempted suicide is referred for medical care, they should be placed under strict supervision until they are considered to be in a stable condition and would not harm themselves.
However, Section 309 does not indicate that the individual should be referred to medical or psychological care after or during sentencing. Which calls for its immediate repeal or appropriate modification by concerned citizens.
Since suicide is criminalised by law, it may also discourage individuals from reaching out to counselling services or suicide prevention helplines, fearing that their situation would be compromised and they would have to face legal action.
Decriminalising Suicide Is Suicide Prevention
For many years, the civil society, mental health specialists and various other non-governmental agencies have been pushing for the decriminalisation of suicide in Malaysia. Highlighting the importance of decriminalising suicide, and the progress that the authorities have made so far towards achieving it, Bar Council Law Reform & Special Areas Committee Co-Chairman and National Coalition of Mental Wellbeing member, Datuk Seri M. Ramachelvam, noted that; “The World Health Organisation has called upon the countries around the world to decriminalise suicide, therefore the moment is now, and we should not delay anymore”.
Adding that, in 2012 the government’s Law Reform Committee conducted a study on reviewing the penal code section 309, and in the same year the then Minister of Health had stated that suicide should be decriminalised.
Ramachelvam also stated that, in 2019, the Minister of Law had said that a bill would be presented in Parliament to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code, which was supposed to have happened in 2020. While in 2020 the federal government had said that the Attorney General’s chamber was studying various jurisdictions on the issue of decriminalising suicide.
Ramachelvam further noted that; “People who are contemplating suicide or who have attempted suicide never gets reported to relevant mental health authorities through the doctors or family members. Because if the incident gets reported there will be a potential criminal charge over the person who attempted suicide and survived. The stigma caused by the criminalisation of the act itself can deter the individual from seeking and receiving mental health related care, counselling or rehabilitative care”.
According to Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Consultant Psychiatrist at the National University of Malaysia, Dr. Lai Fong Chan, criminalising suicide does not act as a deterrent to prevent somebody from attempting suicide, and can actually have a negative effect, as it marginalises people who are in distress, from accessing help from mental health services.
Adding that; “When someone is in acute suicidal crisis, somebody who is crying out for help in that distress, it’s unthinkable that you would dangle this punishment as a deterrent saying ‘you are going to prison’. Emotional distress is not best dealt with a prison sentence”.
Dr. Chan pointed out that there are already laws in place in the Mental Health Act that if someone is suspected to have mental health issues that puts the individual at risk of their own safety, PDRM and the registered social workers have the mandate to bring such persons to a mental health service provider or to a health service provider for assessment and care.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Befrienders at 03-76272929.
Sign and share this petition to decriminalise suicide in Malaysia.
Cheap, plentiful, bad for the environment – fast fashion is much like fast food. We crave the convenience that allows us to keep up with the latest trends in the age of social media. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a few fast fashion pieces, especially because there aren’t many affordable options available. The problem lies within throwaway culture.
Throwaway culture is the misuse of fast fashion. Only the wealthy used to have wear-it-once wardrobes, but now many are able to afford clothes as single-use purchases. The pressure to look good on social media has people viewing outfits as perishable and disposable. This has caused an estimated 85% of textiles to end up in landfills each year.
What Is Second Hand September
Oxfam, a global movement that’s working towards a world without poverty, sees second hand clothing as a way to protect the planet and help people beat poverty. Their 30-day campaign, Second Hand September, encourages consumers to form more sustainable shopping habits by only buying second hand clothing all month.
How To Get Involved
- Reduce your waste – Only buy what you’ll wear! Even if it’s second hand, ask yourself if you’ll wear it more than once. Be more intentional with your purchases and don’t be tempted by sales. Add it to your Wishlist first and see how you feel about it in a few days.
- Reuse pre-loved items – Shopping second hand is an affordable option that keeps clothes from ending up in landfills. If it’s a local business, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and supporting small businesses, too!
- Recycle your unwanted clothes – Declutter your closet and divide your clothes into three categories: donate, sell, recycle. Don’t throw away items that are in poor condition, instead choose to recycle the fabrics.
Where To Buy & Sell
- Pre-loved clothing: Thryffy
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- Second hand books: Books N Bobs
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- Pre-owned electronics, fashion, home & living: Carousell
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- Malaysia’s largest online marketplace: Mudah
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Where To Donate
When we think of racism, we think of the direct forms of racial discrimination – the intentionally harmful attitudes and actions that are done in public. But racism isn’t always explicit, in fact, covert racism, which is more subtle or even unintentional, is a much larger part of the problem. This requires us to address our own individual actions and internalized racism when working to dismantle systemic racism.
What Is Internalized Racism
Internalized racism is a form of subconscious, or conscious, negative feelings towards one’s own (oppressed) race / ethnicity. From colorism to sexism, these implicit biases are rooted in the negative societal beliefs that are taught to be accepted as a societal norm.
Examples Of Internalized Racism
The acceptance of a racial hierarchy can be seen in:
- Anglicizing your name.
- Deliberately trying to change your accent.
- Withdrawing from speaking your native language in public.
- Feeling ashamed of family members or friends who can’t speak English.
- Wanting Eurocentric features.
- Treating white and fairer people better than those with darker skin.
- Refusing to date or people within the same race.
- Avoiding cultural celebrations.
The Dangers Of Internalized Racism:
The internalized racism you hold within yourself may not be your fault (social structures, colonialism and the media have taught us to accept these ideologies), but it is your responsibility to unlearn them. It won’t be easy and will require humility, but ignoring these social constructs will only maintain racial supremacy – limiting growth and change for racial injustice and equality. These harmful behaviours and biases also support the division within races, as well as amongst other races, and prevents individuals and racial groups from authentically accepting and loving themselves and their culture.
Questions To Ask Yourself
- “Do I believe in the stereotypes about my own race and am trying to prove that I do not fall into the same group?”
- “Have I participated and contributed in racist conversations directed towards my own race?”
- “Do I only find people of other races beautiful / attractive?”
- “Have I tried to change the way I look or talk in order to fit in with another race?”
How To Combat Internalized Racism
The more we let our actions or words slide, the more we accept them. Instead:
- Educate yourself on your culture / ethnicity.
- Practice self-love towards the way you look and sound.
- Show more interest in your culture’s beliefs, practices, foods and celebrations.
- Speak up against racism towards your own race.
Kitakerja.my, a social initiative focusing on matching Malaysian jobseekers in the Bottom-40 (“B40”) income bracket to domestic employers, is calling for more Malaysians to join hands in building an ecosystem of jobseekers and employers while at the same time assisting in the economic recovery one job at a time.
Kitakerja.my is the brainchild of two young Malaysians pooling their resources together to help fellow Malaysians in the B40 bracket who lost their jobs.
Kitakerja.my co-founder Choong En Han said, “Over the past 18 months, our whole nation has been focused on two numbers, COVID-19 new cases and death rates, but there is another number that has slipped into our lives without many people realizing it, and that is the nation’s unemployment rate.”
There are more than 770,000 unemployed Malaysians now in the country according to the Department of Statistics June 2021 report. It was also reported that about 100,000 Malaysians lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to former Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan in a report dated Dec. 9, 2020.
“We started kitakerja.my to give unemployed Malaysians primarily in the B40 income bracket a platform in which they can be matched to jobs offered by employers. Jobs have become scarcer given all the lockdowns we have endured since March 2020. Together with employers and jobseekers, we can assist each other while in our own way, help the economy to recover and progress, one job at a time,” Choong explained.
“We have seen firsthand how severely businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrenching employees is always the last resort for any business. We want to do our part in helping Malaysians affected by the pandemic to rebuild their lives, particularly those in the B40 group who are most vulnerable to financial shocks,” Choong added, “We need to act now and be a part of the solution and be the movement for a better Malaysia, otherwise, Malaysian household income levels will continue to deteriorate.”
Mohd Nizam Abdul Rahim, fellow co-founder who mooted the initiative with Choong, said, “Our resources are limited and we really need the help of fellow Malaysians who have the skills to help us build, promote and develop this initiative. Currently, kitakerja.my is matching jobseekers and employers manually but we are seeking solutions to automate the process.”
“We are inviting tech-based experts, trainers and Malaysians in general to become a part of this movement. If you have the skills and ideas to make kitakerja.my a better platform to help Malaysians in need, please talk to us. Your contribution can also be as simple as sharing our website kitakerja.my or message via WhatsApp to keep the conversation going.”
“Many are suffering silently, but it should not be this way. Malaysians should come together this time with the aim to rebuild the nation as we celebrate the country’s 64th National Day. Hopefully employers that are hiring could give our fellow Malaysians a chance in getting employed. With jobseekers being employed, the multiplier effect of increased private consumption would be kickstarted and ultimately everyone wins in the country,” Nizam said.
Besides matchings for B40 jobseekers, kitakerja.my also has plans to make them more employable through training and development programmes in which vocational skills will be emphasized.
Kitakerja.my is a nation-building and social initiative by Malaysians for Malaysians. Kitakerja.my will be a social enterprise once all the infrastructure is in place. Choong and Nizam are open to discussing possibilities that can help B40 jobseekers upskill or reskill. #jomkitakerjabersama
When I was in primary school, a classmate alerted me to the fact that there was something strange in my eyes. I mirrored his alarmed state and started freaking out, too, but quickly realised he was simply referring to the colour of my eyes. Due to my mixed heritage, I don’t look like a typical Malaysian and most definitely don’t look like a typical Malay.
Strange and unnecessary remarks about my appearance have followed me throughout my years in Malaysia. Almost like a dog following the scent of snacks hidden within the hands of its owner. Except that the racial comments I receive don’t ever feel like a treat – let alone a reward. As I attended a high school filled with (mainly) locals, I was actually repeatedly told that I’m ugly. With hindsight, I know that this remark probably stemmed from the fact that I did not look like my peers. As a teenager in the moment, though, my self-esteem was affected.
It seemed like I was never Malaysian enough despite the Malay (and Chinese) blood coursing through my veins. So, I assumed I would fit in easily in Germany but there, too, I was not German enough. This impacted my perception of self, specifically my self in relation to my cultural identity.
Exploring Malaysia & It’s Cultures
Initially, I rejected my culture because I was rejected by my local peers. Eventually, though, I realised how that only worsened the situation so I started embracing Malaysia and all its cultures – literally. From discovering Sarawakian history in Kuching to understanding Buddhist philosophy and researching almost every festivity, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of how diverse Malaysia truly is.
Yes, this diversity can create divides but it’s you who chooses how to address that divide. Will you choose to see others as ugly because they’re not like you? Or will you choose to find common ground – to understand how each of us claims Malaysia as home and how that bonds us?
Some Advice from Me to You
Biracial marriage is becoming more and more of a norm, resulting in more and more Malaysians growing up feeling alienated. To avoid feeling lonely within a crowd of people, I recommend:
- Learning about your culture but learning about the other cultures in Malaysia, too.
By doing this, you will be able to relate to almost everyone and can avoid feeling out of place.
- Find the similarities within each culture – for example, how every major religion within Malaysia preaches kindness.
If you are avoiding learning about your own culture or have preconceived notions about a specific culture in Malaysia, ask yourself why. You may be rejecting your culture the same way I was under the presumption that you will feel less attacked, or you may be acting the same way others have been acting towards you as a defence mechanism (believing a specific race or culture can only look/ act one way).
- Set boundaries – if someone is asking invasive questions or attacking your culture due to assuming you’re from another culture, then clearly express your discomfort.
I have personally experienced too many people asking me about my religious beliefs and if I practice this or that aspect of my culture. This has resulted in countless of moments of discomfort – why should I share a personal aspect of myself with a stranger who’s probably asking with the intention to judge? Remember, always express your discomfort in an understandable way (aka don’t be rude either) or change the topic if the person doesn’t get the hint.
- Seek mental health support if needed.
If you have suffered from a traumatic racial related incident then know that Wild Ginger has extensively shared information on easily accessible mental health support via the official Instagram! Alternatively, you can read this article which details normalising conversations about mental health or this article about how to tell your parents you want to go for therapy.
For most of us, social media is our main news source. Platforms have gone from photo-sharing to news-breaking, making news consumption more convenient and widespread. Current headlines and global issues are broken down into bite-sized content, which allows people to stay up-to-date, but they aren’t informative enough. To inform ourselves better, we must seek out quality sources of information that are varied and reliable. Podcasts and short videos are a great way to learn more about what’s happening in the world, but a more in-depth resource would be documentaries.
Documentaries make it easier for us to explore global issues. Through compelling real-life stories and expert insights, you’re able to develop a well-rounded base of knowledge and broaden your perspective. All you have to do is sit back and watch! But before you’re able to dive into a documentary, it can be difficult to navigate the sea of choices. There are so many topics to choose from and even more titles to browse through.
If you’ve read the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the United Nations called climate change a “code red for humanity”. This makes the issue of sustainability more pressing than ever as we prepare for the rapid and intensifying levels of warming in the coming decades. To help you learn more about sustainability and familiarize yourself with the current environmental concerns, we’ve compiled a list of five must-see documentaries on Netflix. These films tackle the world’s biggest environmental problems and provide potential solutions that you can implement.
Did you know that animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution? Cowspiracy exposes why the destructive industry remains unchallenged and highlights the devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.
A Plastic Ocean (2016)
A deep dive into plastic pollution, this adventure documentary investigates the worrying impact it has on the world’s oceans. A Plastic Ocean also offers solutions to our overdependence on plastic, which makes up 80% of ocean plastic and breaks down into harmful microplastics.
Brave Blue World (2020)
A more hopeful documentary, Brave Blue World shines an optimistic light on water scarcity by showcasing the new technologies and innovations that could solve the problem. From reuse to energy generation, it gives us an early look to a future for sustainable water.
Going beyond climate change, Breaking Boundaries covers a breadth of environmental issues that are causing the Earth’s biodiversity to collapse. Although it is a glaring reminder of our negative impact on the planet, it does share the steps we can take to help turn things around.
Kiss The Ground (2020)
Another hopeful documentary, Kiss The Ground shares the first viable solution to climate change: Regenerative Agriculture. This approach to farming looks at the potential soil has to preserve the planet, and viewers are provided with practical guidance to join in on the action.
Bonus Watch: Read our breakdown of Seaspiracy here!
Southeast Asia’s only Tropical Spice Garden (TSG) in Penang, is reaching out to Malaysians to ask for their support to help it stay open for generations to come. The eco-attraction launched its crowdfunding campaign “Join the Family, Save the Garden” to raise the vital funds it needs to remain operational and to re-open when restrictions are lifted. The campaign which was launched on the 1st of August aims to raise the funds needed through subscription to its community-powered garden membership program, Spice Fam. Donations from the public are also accepted.
Katharine Chua, Owner and Managing Director of TSG, said “Because of COVID, our doors have been open and shut for the last 16 months and our existence is hanging by a thread. Although we’ve always prided ourselves on running a sustainable business, one that is environmentally-conscious and places people at its heart, nothing could have prepared us for this challenge. So, we urgently need the community’s support to help keep this garden open for future generations to come.”
TSG is hoping to raise funds to stay operational and re-open once travel restrictions are lifted. Malaysians who want to support the gardens can either purchase a Spice Fam membership or make a donation on the campaign site. For as low as RM25/month, the subscription will allow members unlimited entry to the Garden, join monthly activities, events, virtual classes and workshops (currently ongoing) from anywhere in the world. Members are also entitled to exclusive garden camping passes.
“Your Spice Fam subscription is more than just money, it’s the garden’s lifeline to stay open. In return, I hope that we’ll be able to bring you and your loved ones closer together in nature. We’re just getting started, as there is so much in store for everyone in the years to come.” said Katharine.
Timeless and enchanting, Tropical Spice Garden is a bio-diverse living museum of the spices and other tropical plants that have shaped our global history. The five landscaped acres of the garden is a treasure trove of more than 500 living specimens of lush and exotic flora from around the world. The spices and plants you find at the Gardens have their roots deep in Penang and Malaysia’s history and culture. It’s a bio-diverse living museum of the spices and other tropical plants that have shaped our global history.
Katharine added, “We want to be able to continue to share this unique and special place which does so much for bringing the community together, nurturing a love for nature and educating young and old alike. And in this new normal, now more than ever – we need green, healing spaces. Every cent raised will go into maintaining the Garden and growing the Spice Fam community. We invite you to join us on this adventure.”
MR DOLLAR, a subsidiary of MR D.I.Y. Group (M) Berhad, steps up its humanitarian efforts to support the White Flag campaign via its initiative #KibarkanBenderaKamiBantuSegera, until 14 July. Through this initiative, MR DOLLAR will be distributing 1,000 food packages daily to those living within a 2km radius of MR DOLLAR stores throughout Peninsular Malaysia. The White Flag Campaign was started by concerned netizens to urge struggling households to raise a white flag, as a signal for help.
The food package consists of cooking oil, instant noodles, tea and coffee, biscuits, sweet creamer, and condiments. Throughout the campaign period, MR DOLLAR allocates 1,000 packages to be distributed on a daily basis. All 42 MR DOLLAR stores will be participating in this campaign.
To participate in this movement, needy families may raise a white flag outside their homes, capture and share its photo to request for assistance via WhatsApp at +016 -7711079. Upon receiving the photos, MR DOLLAR’s customer service personnel will reach out to the recipients to arrange for delivery of the food package. Families, friends, and relatives of needy families may also submit the requests on their behalf.
For more information and updates, visit MR. DOLLAR’s website, or its social media handles — Facebook and Instagram respectively, or call the MR. DOLLAR Customer Careline at 03-89611338. The list of participating stores is available here.
Every year, on 5 June, World Environment Day is celebrated to encourage governments, businesses and citizens to do their part in protecting the planet. The global platform highlights the importance of nature, inspiring action to be taken against pressing environmental issues. From sustainable consumption and environmentally-friendly businesses, to ecological restoration and education, positive change is needed for a greener future!
There’s no denying that more people care about protecting the environment these days, but the term “sustainability” has turned into a buzzword that’s thrown around in marketing campaigns. As more companies and brands have grown to focus on sustainability, it’s become harder to understand what that word actually means. By definition, sustainability is “the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment”. When companies and brands claim to be sustainable, are we, the consumers, able to tell if it’s true?
This World Environment Day, we would like to introduce you to the latest sustainability platform, Upcycle4Better, founded by sustainable fashion advocate, Seri Mizani, and visual storyteller, Hafreez Amminuddin. With their stellar combination of creativity and innovation, that’s a match made in heaven, Upcycle4Better is on a mission to create a community that’s inspired by the beauty of maintaining environmental sustainability through upcycling. After all, team work does make the dream work! Below, they break down sustainability to help us, as consumers, understand the impact of our actions and choices.
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What is sustainable consumption?
Seri: Speaking based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 12, in my understanding, sustainable consumption is about moving towards green growth and getting to a point where we all could provide a triple-win perspective – a balance between the people, the economy, and specifically the planet. To make it simple, it means with whatever choices you make, you have to consider “is this going to harm the people, the planet and the ecosystem in the long run?”. I know, it’s so intense! It’s a lot to take in and it’s easier said than done too.
We’re only at the start of finding sustainable ways when it comes to our day-to-day consumption and lifestyle. However, I do believe that the pandemic has heightened our environmental awareness. I feel like some of us have been slowly implementing sustainability in our lives without realising it, such as buying from local small businesses, eating more plant- based, or just reusing the same baju for 3 straight days because we’re just working from home, haha!
Anyways, personally, how I see sustainable consumption at the moment, is making sustainable choices / decisions that are achievable for us. Start small. Going for a sustainable lifestyle will not happen overnight, so do what sparks you!
How can we build a sustainable culture here in Malaysia?
There are a good amount of things that we can do as individuals to minimise our impact and create a better relationship with our environment. However, there is more that we can do as a collective.
Building a culture means having the like-minded people with the same values. Right at this moment, realistically, building a sustainable culture in Malaysia means educating the people around us on what it means to be “sustainable”. There are people who still see it as vague, which is understandable.
Most of us were not taught to understand what sustainability and caring for the planet means. Not even in school. That is why we do believe education is key when it comes to building a culture, especially if it is a sustainable one.
What are some affordable ways people can practice sustainability?
Up-cycling, of course! It’s the most economical way to practise sustainability. You can do it with food by making leftovers, repurposing empty jars, or restyling your old clothes. There’s a lot of ways!
Keep up with Upcycle4better’s efforts and join their community by following them on Instagram!
The persisting stigma surrounding menstruation can be seen by the many euphemisms that exist for the term: “shark week”, “code red”, “female trouble”, “time of month”, “Aunt Flow”…and these are just in English! While some may be entertaining to use, they are actually harmful as they reinforce the idea that having your period is something to be ashamed of and should be hidden from others. Because of this stigma and taboo, menstruation isn’t discussed as openly as it should be, and this leads to false information being shared from generation to generation. It’s now become crucial to have open conversations about periods, and dismantle cultures of misinformation and shame that have been around for centuries.
Let’s debunk these menstrual myths to prove how healthy and normal menstruation is:
“EW, PERIOD BLOOD IS DIRTY!”
This is one of the oldest myths that have been around, and passed down from generation to generation. Period blood isn’t dirty blood. Period blood is simply a different form of bodily fluids (which is naturally secreted by the body) that contains a little bit of blood, uterine tissue, mucus lining and bacteria.
PERIODS = WOMANHOOD
We’ve all heard the notion, “Once you get your period, you become a woman”. Now, throw that notion out the window! Not all women menstruate and not everyone who menstruates is a woman. Periods aren’t experienced by cisgender women only – they are also experienced by trans men, and non-binary, genderqueer and intersex individuals.
“YOUR PMS IS NOT REAL / YOU’RE JUST BEING DRAMATIC”
For those who menstruate, PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is a naturally occurring monthly change in their body – not a mindset! Right before a menstruation cycle, the sex hormone (oestrogen and progesterone) levels drop drastically, causing emotional and physical symptoms such as mood swings, tiredness, painful cramps and headaches. When the human body experiences these changes, it is bound to affect their emotions and reactions to daily stressors. It is not made up or an excuse – it is very much real!
The next time your period causes you to not feel like your usual self, please remember that it is completely normal and perfectly okay to feel that way.
“YOU WILL LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY IF YOU USE A TAMPON / PERIOD CUP”
The sanitary products developed for dealing with our periods are predominantly safe and won’t affect your virginity at all. These products, which are designed to go inside of you, may cause the hymen to stretch. However, they will not cause someone to lose their virginity. Check out our list of safe, eco-friendly and organic period products here!
LATE PERIODS = PREGNANCY
False! There are plenty of reasons why a period might be late. Sudden weight loss, stress, contraceptive pills and irregular periods can affect your menstrual cycle – hence, making your period late. If you’re worried, take a pregnancy test to ease your mind or visit your gynaecologist. Don’t forget to practice safe sex!
It can be extremely empowering to exchange experiences, information and ideas about menstruation. By encouraging candid conversation about periods, we are supporting the individuals in our lives, and breaking the taboos and myths around them. Having your period is a normal thing – as ordinary as having to go to the bathroom! No person should ever be held back just because they are on their period.
You may have skipped school because of period pain, or have gone home early because of a stain, but in many countries, including Malaysia, children have been missing school because they can’t afford menstrual hygiene products or are afraid of being bullied for having their periods.
Period poverty is a global problem that affects up to 500 million individuals (more than 800 million people menstruate daily). They have limited access to sanitary products and hygiene facilities, such as toilets, handwashing facilities and/or waste management. This human rights issue is exacerbated by the lack of education on menstrual health and hygiene, and the prevailing taboos and stigma. As a result, millions of individuals are held back from reaching their full potential at school and work because it threatens their opportunities, health and overall social status.
In Malaysia, the pandemic has made matters worse. Individuals in poor urban areas were already struggling to find an absorbent substitute for unaffordable sanitary pads, resorting to paper, newspaper and ‘kain batik’. In rural areas, they’ve even had to make use of coconut husks and banana leaves. Not only are these ‘alternatives’ extremely uncomfortable, the unsanitary conditions they provide put wearers at risk of developing infections, which can lead to serious health issues.
Period poverty doesn’t just affect girls and women, it is a global sanitation problem. According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people live without basic sanitation services worldwide, and in developing countries, only 27% of the population have a hand washing facility (soap and water) at home. The lack of education on menstrual health and hygiene among boys and men also harms for those who menstruate, as it affects their confidence and social solidarity.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global advocacy platform that promotes good menstrual health and hygiene for all. Their goal is to end period poverty and stigma by 2030 by raising awareness and breaking the stigma around menstrual health and hygiene, and engaging decision makers to increase action and investment in menstrual health and hygiene at global, national and local levels.
Achieving menstrual equity worldwide will empower people to manage their menstruation safely and hygienically, with confidence and without shame. It will allow everyone access to menstrual products, proper toilets, hand washing facilities, waste management, and education.
Did you know that 18-year-old Malaysians are old enough to:
- Start an NGO
- Start working
- Register a business
- Drive a vehicle
- Own a credit card
- Buy property
- Travel unaccompanied
- Join the military
- Get married
- File a lawsuit
But they are not old enough to vote. They are allowed the same roles and responsibilities as those who can vote, but are still denied of the right to vote.
Young adults should not be unfairly excluded from the decision-making of societies. They have a larger stake in our future and are more affected by political issues. This is why The Body Shop Malaysia has launched a nationwide campaign to petition the government for the timely implementation of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, as passed by the Malaysian Parliament in July 2019 to amend Article 119(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
The petition calls upon the government to ensure that this amendment is honoured as initially promised by July 2021. It was recently announced that the implementation of the amended Act would only take effect in September next year. Hence, this will affect the eligibility of 1.2 million 18-year-olds to vote in the coming general elections.
The Body Shop’s My Vote My Right18 campaign and petition will be running for the whole month of May. Malaysians can support and sign the petition in-stores or online. They aim to submit the petition to our cabinet members in the first week of June, 2021.