This practice of proving your period has been an open secret within the community and as the case with most victims of harassment, there was a fear of coming forward. Who would believe a young girl vs a religious teacher? Especially within our Asian community where we are taught not to question our elders, it is very difficult to come forward with such accusations. In this case, the harassment was so widely practiced, not just within one school, but schools across Malaysia. It became normalised. But having to prove you have your period is far from normal.
Sadly that’s not where it ends, the harassment and abuse goes further to affect both male and female students. Accounts of periodic spot checks in school where students were physically invaded when looking for “forbidden items” with girls having their bodies groped and breasts grabbed. Boys would be punished by being kicked, choked and hit. Even in primary school the teachers would reprimand them by pinching their nipples or squeezing their testes, sometimes even calling them names like “pondan” to incite further peer bullying.
Model and social activist Nalisa Amin took it upon herself to collect and share these stories in order to get the word out. She teamed up with AWAM, SIS and WOMEN:girls to investigate further – they are currently working on creating a taskforce to uncover more stories and information regarding this case. The more awareness there is on what’s going on the more likely there are going to be consequences for these heinous actions. Under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, this form of treatment could be considered criminal and tried in court. Infractions include molestation, violation of personal autonomy, bodily integrity and body shaming via the excuse of disciplinary punishment but bordering on harassment and abuse of power. With the number of accounts growing, it seems apparent that justice needs to be brought to the victims.
If you or anyone you know has experienced harassment and abuse while in a Malaysian school or university, please reach out to AWAM via instagram or at firstname.lastname@example.org