Malaysia: Women face travel restrictions

AFP via Womensphere
Malaysian women face travel curbs without letter from parents or employers.
Malaysian women travelling abroad on their own may need letters from their parents or employers in a bid to stop them becoming “mules” for international drug syndicates, reports said.
The proposal comes as 119 Malaysians, 90 per cent of whom are women, have been imprisoned worldwide on drug-related charges with the majority believed to have been duped into transporting drugs, the New Sunday Times reported.

“I have submitted this proposal to the Cabinet and both the Foreign and Home Ministries feel this is necessary,” foreign minister Rais Yatim told the paper.

“Many of these women (who travel alone) leave the country on the pretext of work or attending courses and seminars,” he added.

“With this declaration, we will know for sure where and for what she is travelling overseas.”

Malaysians have become prime targets for syndicates wanting to smuggle drugs into the European Union, the paper said, because they do not require visas for short stays of up to 90 days or to transit in those countries.

It said the offences were also committed in various other nations including China, Singapore, India, Spain and Portugal.

However, women’s groups have criticised the move.

“This is an infringement of our rights,” National Council for Women’s Organisations Malaysia (NCWO) deputy president Faridah Khalid told the paper. “We’re the victims and now you’re creating more problems. Why must you put more restrictions on women? We have worked hard over the years to get to this level,” she added.

Advocacy group Tenaganita said the move was not practical.

“Thousands of people travel daily. Who is going to scrutinise the declaration as anyone can forge their parents’ signature,” spokeswoman S. Florida was quoted as saying by the paper.

6 May 2008

Source: AFP via Womensphere