Shell removes Malaysian woman cut-outs from service stations because men are groping them

Images of men kissing the cardboard cut-outs, holding her hand and grabbing her chest started circulating on Facebook in recent days

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 5:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 6:53pm

Energy giant Shell said it is removing life-size cut-outs of a Malaysian woman in a headscarf from its service stations in the Muslim-majority country after photos of men groping the figure started circulating online.

The adverts featuring a female employee, wearing a red T-shirt with a Shell logo, black trousers and a black headscarf, smiling and with her thumb raised in the air, had been placed at Royal Dutch Shell’s stations in Malaysia.

But images of men kissing the cardboard cut-outs, holding her hand and grabbing her chest and crotch started circulating on Facebook in recent days, in what Shell blasted as “distasteful and suggestive acts”.

The woman, named in local reports as 25-year-old Nor Shafila Khairusalleh, who worked at a Shell station, criticised the “extreme behaviour” of the men in the images.

“They may just be joking, but I feel humiliated because that is still myself although it is just an image,” she told news portal mStar.

The Anglo-Dutch group said in a statement that “we do not condone this disrespectful act, which is completely against the culture of Malaysians and Shell’s core values. We urge netizens and members of the public to refrain from sharing these images further.

“The standee (cut-out) will be removed from all our sites with immediate effect.”

An AFP journalist at a Shell station in Bentong, just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, said two of the cut-outs had been removed from the forecourt and placed inside the site’s shop. A staff member said the cut-outs were removed Monday and were going to be placed in storage.

Shell did not say how many cut-outs were removed and which stations were affected. The oil giant has a network of over 950 stations across Malaysia and serves nearly one million customers a day, according to its website.

More than 60 per cent of Malaysia’s population of over 30 million people are Muslim and social attitudes – particularly outside cities – can be conservative.

Religious conservatism has also been rising in Malaysia in recent years, chipping away at a one-time reputation for moderation and tolerance.