Many women who encounter sexual harassment never speak up about it because they fear repercussions, assume it’s “normal”, or worse, are made to feel they “deserved it”. It is with this in mind that the #ChooseToSpeakUp campaign has been launched in conjunction with International Women’s Day.
The campaign, organised by Pocket Angel, a women’s personal safety alarm provider, in collaboration with Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), encourages women who have encountered sexual harassment or abuse to step up and speak up about their experience through a safe sharing space where women can draw strength and support from one another.
“There is a dedicated section on the Pocket Angel website for visitors to submit their stories, anonymously if they wish, to raise awareness on the issue of sexual harassment, throughout the campaign period which will run for the entire month of March,” says brand manager Serene Ho.
To kickstart the campaign, three women share their experience of sexual harassment to raise awareness on personal safety and the importance of speaking up.
Singer, songwriter and fitness enthusiast Talitha Tan speaks up about her unpleasant experience when someone tried to record her while she was showering.
“I found his arm poking into my room with his phone, trying to record me showering. He stayed in my living room the whole freaking day while I hid in my room,” recounts Tan.
Teacher, part-time student and TikTok content creator Tharsyani Nair speaks up about her father’s friend, an elderly man, who would regularly call her and make sexual remarks to her.
“People tend to blame the victim, but it’s never the victim’s fault. No, it’s not because of the way I dressed. It’s about time that we do something about it,” says Tharsyani.
Mother of four and pilates instructor Siu Lim speaks up about being in an abusive relationship.
“He told my son I’m crazy. Look at your mum, look at how she’s crying.
"It was a turning point when I said enough is enough. If a guy ever hits you, you need to leave him – period,” says Lim.
Tan adds that it’s time for a change and women should speak up and not be quiet about such things. If women don’t speak up, nothing gets done and the perpetrator goes unpunished, the women concur.
“We aim to empower women through empathy and solidarity, as there is strength in numbers, so that victims will know they are not alone in this,” says Ho.
“It is reported that over a third or 36% of Malaysian women have experienced sexual harassment at one point of their lives,” she adds.
“So, through the #ChooseToSpeakUp campaign, we hope to normalise speaking up about sexual assault and to reduce the stigma of speaking up against such issues in society,” says Ho.
Pocket Angel has also partnered with Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) to help publicise the NGO’s work and services such as their crisis helpline through its website and social media during the campaign. Part of the proceeds from the sales of Pocket Angel merchandise will also go toward’s WAO’s cause in providing support for women and children who have experienced abuse.