Period Proof: Harrowing Stories of Harassment Amongst Schoolgirls 0 424

As a child, going to school was an integral part of our development, not only were we getting an academic education but also a social one. We made friends, played games and overall had a jolly good time just being kids. However, recently a harrowing practice of systematic abuse and harassment has come to light amongst young people in schools. It all started when an individual on twitter asked the Minister of Religious Affairs his opinion on certain schools that force their female Muslim students to show their menstruation blood to their school prefect or teachers as proof that they won’t be able to pray or fast. This tweet led to an avalanche of stories of young women who were subjected to awful invasions of their bodies year after year. 

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 infocom.awam@gmail.com 

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Moving Into An Endemic 0 432

Over the past week, new Health Minister Khairy has stated that by October Malaysia will be moving forward from a pandemic to an endemic. This comes after an arduous battle with Covid-19 over the past year and a half with almost 2 million cases and over 18,000 deaths.

What moving into an endemic essentially means is that we’ll all have to adjust to the virus being around, however, due to immunity from the vaccinations, it will no longer be deadly and thus the need for social isolation will no longer be as necessary. Hospitalizations, transmissions and death from the virus will significantly reduce and despite the potential of getting infected, Covid will be treated the same as most other cases of flu. 

A benchmark reference in turning a pandemic into an endemic is the 1918 influenza which took the lives of 50 million individuals. In recent times, Influenza A and most seasonal flu’s have descended from this initial virus, however, they have become much less deadly. Yearly they claim about 650,000 lives which are significant but not bad enough to affect our day to day the way it did when it first came it. 

It all boils down to a shift in immunity and a shift in perception – we’re not afraid of the common cold, we know that we won’t feel good for a few days and we’ll eventually recover. This is what Covid will likely evolve into, something that we are wary of but not fearful of our lives. Even in Malaysia right now, as of 8th September 97.8% of cases, 19.304, were individuals who had no symptoms or very mild symptoms. 

This shows that the vaccines are working and as long as we continue to vaccinate the country’s population in a timely manner, we’ll likely be reaching the end of the road soon and life as we once knew it will return. 

Critics of this decision believe that we are potentially opening up too soon, however, if the vaccination rates are high enough to justify this shift then there is nothing else we can really do. We cannot live in lockdowns forever and the economy cannot halt any longer. It seems like this is the time for a new chapter, hopefully, one that comes with greater health and safety for all whilst a sense of normalcy is returned. 

Do you think shifting into an endemic is the right decision?

So It’s Sabri, Now What? 0 344

Our bed’s been made, I guess we gotta find a way to lay in it 

Looks like our democracy has been disregarded for the time being and no amount of unrest from the citizens is going to make a difference. For most of us, this is our only home so it’s time to make the best of a bad situation and be clear about what we want from the people in power:

Parliament back in full session

If SOPs are in place and MPs are vaccinated, there is no reason for parliament not to reconvene. The voices of the people need to be heard and this is the only way we’ll be able to see that. 

Proper financial aid to the B40 community

Not just one-off handouts, but monthly financial aid to help those who have been struggling to put food on the table for the past year and a half. 

Restructuring of the Pandemic Recovery Plan 

Insanity is defined by doing the same thing and expecting different results – it’s time to rethink, relook and restructure our plan to get us out of this pandemic. It’s not about relying on the vaccines alone but holistically approaching the situation. 

#Undi18

Automatic registration of voters for those ages 18 and above for upcoming elections. 

Vaccinations for those in remote areas

Even though the vaccination rates have been tremendously high, it is clear that those living in the outskirts and the Orang Asli community have yet to receive their doses. 

Better support for our healthcare workers

Without our incredible healthcare workers, we would have seen many more fatalities in the country. They should be given full-time positions with the benefits that they deserve. 

Fair treatment of foreign workers

Foreign workers deserve to have safe working and living conditions that should be mandated under the law. 

Stopping the intimidation of activists 

Under a true democracy, activism, protests and the voices of the people must be heard. Activists should be allowed to speak on their views without fear of being investigated.

These are just some of the ways we want to see a positive change with the “new government”. Let’s hope that there will be some brighter days for us as Malaysians.

What are some changed you’d like to see?

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