Jakarta, 28 May 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Indonesia‘s security minister has been criticized sharply for comparing the novel coronavirus to a wife in an attempt to allay public concerns about easing Covid-19 restrictions.
The Indonesian government is preparing to lift partial lockdowns in parts of the country in early June and adopt what it calls ‘the new normal’.
“Are we going to be holed up forever? We can adjust to the situation while still paying attention to our health,” security minister Mohammad Mahfud said in a video posted on YouTube on Wednesday.
“The other day I got a meme from my colleague Luhut Pandjaitan that says: Corona is like your wife. Initially you tried to control it, then you realize that you can’t. Then you learn to live with it,” he said in English.
Pandjaitan is the minister for maritime affairs and investment.
The off-the-cuff remarks drew ire from women’s rights groups and other Indonesians online.
“Not only does the statement reflect the incompetence of the government in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, it also demonstrates the sexist and misogynistic attitudes of public officials,” Women’s Solidarity Society said in a statement.
“Jokes that objectify women will only normalize the culture of violence against women,” it said.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Indonesia rose to 23,851 on Wednesday, an increase of 686 from the previous day.
An additional 55 deaths brought the number of fatalities to 1,473.
Some Indonesians have expressed concerns about the plan to reopen the economy at a time when the curve appears to have not flattened.