Teen: Better way to protest sexual harassment than skipping school

PETALING JAYA: There are much better ways to protest against sexual harassment than skipping or staying away from school, says Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam.

The teenager, who made headlines after exposing a teacher who had trivialised rape during a class discussion, said she did not approve of the call from the Nationwide School Walkout Day (NSWD) Alliance.

“For now, there are much better ways to handle the current situation. But we will take the next course of action if the government continues to take this issue lightly, ” the 17-year-old Ain tweeted yesterday.

She lodged a police report against a male Physical Education teacher for making jokes about rape in class and another after receiving a rape threat from a male classmate.

She is now campaigning to change attitudes about the issue at schools.

Her father Saiful Nizam Abdul Wahab said although he was thankful for the support from all parties to raise awareness on sexual harassment, he was concerned the calls to stage the walkout would court more negativity.

“Students go to school to get high quality education and must fill their school time with such things instead of being involved in protests.

“In fact, it is unfair to ask students to participate in such an action at this stage, ” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) also said it was against the call to stage the one-day protest as part of the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said the protest would imply all schools in Malaysia were unsafe and that schools were “lurking with teachers waiting to molest their own students”.

“We do not deny there may be black sheep. If there are, then report them to the police and let the police do their job. Do not generalise, ” he said when contacted yesterday.

An alliance of activists from Solidariti Pendidikan, Monsters Among Us, Demokrat Kebangsaan, Rape Watchdog and others have called for teachers and students to carry out a one-day protest on May 6 or 7.

The protest is to call for reforms, challenge norms, improve advocacy, and protect and support survivors of sexual harassment in schools.

Some of the demands also include introducing institutional changes such as reporting and response frameworks, and proper training for academic staff to handle such situations with care.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said students should stand up for what was right but not at the expense of education even for a lesson or day.

She noted that there wasn’t a rape culture but a misogynistic one among teachers and students.

“By all means parents too should not take this misogynistic culture lying down. It has a lot of implications on the shaping of the minds of our children.

“Is this the attitude that we want our children to have as future adults? Is this how you want your sons to behave as adults? Is this how you want your daughters to be treated by men who has grown up in such a culture?” she asked.

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