In April, the nation was shocked by the public exposé of an apparently decade-long practice of “period spot checks” on female students by either teachers or school prefects in learning institutions.
Various civil society organisations, including the Malaysian academic movement Gerak, then called on the Ministry of Education to act.
In response, the Education Minister Radzi Jidin, promised to look into the matter.
As of June, the ministry was said to be finalising the formation of an independent committee to address the issue.
Recently, another report has emerged about an incident which reportedly occurred on 18 October in the Klang Valley. Apparently, about 30 female students of a vocational school in Kuala Lumpur were asked to provide proof of their menstruation.
This revolting, barbaric practice is a clear violation of the students’ rights, especially their right to privacy.
It is nothing less than sexual harassment and abuse, including abuse of power by the teachers and other ‘official’ perpetrators.
Had the ministry acted immediately and decisively after the first media exposure in April, this recent incident would not have occurred.
Gerak is perplexed and exasperated at how slow the ministry has been in putting an immediate stop to such an abhorrent practice in learning institutions under its watch.
How many more students will need to be violated before the ministry takes concrete and decisive action?
Gerak would like to reiterate our call for the ministry to take stern action against all perpetrators and that a redress policy for such violations be put in place immediately.
It is the responsibility and obligation of the ministry to ensure that learning institutions are made safe for students to get an education and to learn.
And the clear responsibility of teachers is to provide the students a conducive environment to enhance their learning – and not, instead, to violate the students’ rights and privacy.
Nothing less would be acceptable. – Gerak