THE social and online news media are still abuzz with the alarming revelations of a 17-year-old Malaysian student, Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, who recently called out a male PE teacher in her school for making a distasteful and dangerous joke about rape.
The teacher had allegedly trivialised the crime and even advised the boys about not raping minors, implying that it was all right to rape adult women.
After her revelation went viral on social media, Ain made a police report claiming that she had received a rape threat from a fellow male student who accused her of tarnishing their school’s image. She has also been criticised for being “emotional” and told that the incident should have been handled internally in the school.
Gerak (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia or Malaysian Academic Movement) is horrified and disgusted that rape, a violent crime, was trivialised and normalised by the teacher during a lesson in class. We are equally appalled by the rape threat made by the male teenager against Ain.
Sexual crimes such as rape leave survivors with long-lasting emotional and psychological trauma that require multiple therapies. Sexual crimes are not matters to be laughed at – invariably by men – in gyms and locker rooms.
Gerak demands that rape culture, the normalising of rape and treating rape as a joke made by uncaring and insecure cretins, be put to a stop. There is a need for re-education on sexual crime awareness and a code of conduct at all levels of our education system, indeed even within our law enforcement agencies, starting from the very top.
Sexual harassment and abuse must be recognised for what they are – abuses and attacks on society’s individuals, more often females. Provisions must be made to ensure safety and safe spaces for our children in schools and that all teachers are trained to be literate and sensitive about the matter.
Despite the threats and negative comments that Ain has received, she has been extremely brave in openly stating that she will not be silenced and that she will continue speaking up to create awareness through her fledgling movement #MakeSchoolASaferPlace.
Ain has rightly and courageously emphasised that we must reject and oppose toxic rape culture. Our society has for too long virtually sidestepped or accepted this culture of misogyny and the trivialising of the struggles faced by women and other weaker groups in society.
Many – from teachers to law enforcement officials – must be re-educated.
Gerak stands by Ain and her #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement. Like Ain, Gerak encourages students (and teachers) to speak up and challenge these abhorrent institutionalised assumptions, behaviours and practices.