Social and online news media are still abuzz with the frightening revelations of a 17-year-old Malaysian student, Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam.
Ain exposed how a physical and health education male teacher in her school made a distasteful and dangerous joke about rape. The teacher had trivialised the crime, even ‘advising’ the boys about not raping minors, implying that it is all right to rape adult women.
Since her revelation on social media, Ain has received a rape threat by a fellow male student for ‘tarnishing’ their school’s image. She has also been criticised for being ‘emotional’ and that the incident should have been handled internally in the school.
Even more shocking, the deputy inspector general of police, Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, has been caught on tape as suggesting that the rape threat by the male student ‘may be a joke’.
The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) 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 deputy inspector generaal’s seemingly dismissive response towards the rape threat made by the male teen.
Sexual crimes such as rape leave survivors with long-lasting emotional and psychological trauma that require multiple therapies. They are no joking matter to be laughed at – invariably by men – in gyms and locker rooms.
Gerak demands that the 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 crimes awareness and a code of conduct at all levels of our education system, indeed within our law enforcement agencies as well, 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 the safety and provide safe spaces for our children in schools and so 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; that she will continue speaking up to create awareness through her fledgeling movement #MakeSchoolASaferPlace.
Ain has rightly and courageously emphasised that we must reject and oppose the 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 senior policemen – 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. – Gerak