Silent no more...

THE nation’s youth was inspired to stand up for their rights thanks to one courageous girl who refused to be silenced.

After 17-year-old Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam exposed her teacher for allegedly cracking jokes on the issues of rape in class, more students began speaking out.

Over the past weeks, social media was abuzz with netizens questioning whether schools in Malaysia are safe. Here’s what some secondary students have to say.

“I have never felt unsafe on school grounds. I go to an all-girls school, so the rate of sexual harassment here is extremely low. Our male teachers are a minority and most of them always maintain a good distance, especially from their students. Having said that, all schools need to be more considerate when assigning male or female teachers to teach Physical and Health Education (PJK) or ‘gender sensitive’ topics. Schools should also consider relocating toilets, stores and other small spaces to brightly lit, easily accessible areas.” - Nur Diyana, 17, Seremban

“It’s not that I have felt unsafe, but my teachers have made inappropriate remarks about the way female students present themselves. There was once when a discipline teacher went as far as to say that if you have more than one piercing, you are a prostitute. I felt uncomfortable and disturbed because I have more than one. She had no right to speak that way in front of the whole class. There is a way to educate students. Casting such outdated stereotypes has no place in an educational institution. A few teachers have also made comments saying that girls should know how to carry themselves when they go out and dress appropriately by not wearing tight fitting outfits. I understand where they are coming from but schools should also focus on teaching boys how to behave themselves. We shouldn’t have to worry about walking alone even during the day.” - Sheila, 16, Kuala Lumpur

“Fortunately, my school is one of the safest places for me to be at besides my home. I’m very lucky to have caring and wise teachers since I started schooling. They are also very good and professional at their jobs; I’ve not once heard any of my teachers say anything inappropriate.” - K. Maya, 16, Kuala Lumpur

“When I was in Form Two, there was a ‘trend’ where girls would lightly tug at each others’ waistband when they were in their PJK track pants. It’s like giving each other a wedgie (the act of forcibly pulling a person’s underpants upwards from the back). Because it was a single gender school, everyone didn’t think much of it and just played along. One of the days, I was alone in the toilet when two students came in and began chatting with me. Suddenly, one of them harshly tugged my waistband, exposing my underpants. I was shocked and embarrassed. I quickly pulled up my pants and left the toilet. I wrote an anonymous letter to my discipline teacher, describing the event and how uncomfortable I felt. I did not name the students, wanting to maintain their anonymity as well. At the next school assembly, the discipline teacher addressed the issue and after that, the ‘trend’ died off. The teacher also set up a box outside the counselling room where students could write anonymous letters about their problems. I’m glad I wrote to my teacher because she took immediate action and now, other students will not have to experience this.” - Maria, 17, Petaling Jaya

“I’ve not heard of teachers cracking inappropriate jokes (in front of us at least). I’m fortunate to be in a decent environment. If anything does go wrong, I hope teachers and other adults in the school take the necessary steps to protect us. So-called ‘harmless jokes’ shouldn’t be taken lightly like it is now. Most people don’t see the damaging effects that result from such ‘small matters’. Our current society is too forgiving towards the offenders leading to the victims not getting the justice deserved.” - Hani, 17, Petaling Jaya

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