Cover Story, Current Affairs, National

PN must urgently address the rot in our education system!

Press Statement
25th April 2021

Perikatan Nasional must act swiftly to address the decay in the education system in Malaysia and bury rape culture as well as sexual grooming once and for all  

A shocking yet courageous testimony by a student on her social media account about her first hand experience of rape jokes and rape culture by her own school teacher has once again brought to light that this is still happening in schools in Malaysia in 2021.

The conversation that took place in school touched on a very important issue that all children must be made to understand and be aware of – sexual harassment and protecting yourself which is certainly a positive measure by the school. However, it took a nasty turn when the teacher spoke about existing laws in place to protect minors against sexual abuses. The teacher then made an incriminating statement that ‘if you want to rape someone, make sure the person is over 18 years of age.’

He also made another damning comment that ‘if boys get raped it doesn’t get reported because apparently boys would feel ‘good’ about it. 

The student lodged a report with the counselling teacher in school only to be told that it is ‘normal’ for jokes like this to be made as boys feel alright with it but girls are sensitive and emotional. Because of that, she was asked to meet the counselling teacher for a ‘therapy’ or counselling session. While he did apologise on behalf of the said teacher, there was no mention that he would take this to higher authorities. This shameless act of protecting predators and sexual monsters by sweeping the matter under the carpet has become a norm in the past and still is even today.

What the student’s counselling teacher said in response to her report

Will the school stand up like the young and fearless girl did and stand together with her in calling out pedophilia amongst their educators, or take the easy way out by transferring the teacher, thus transferring the parasite to another school? Will the school take on the teacher who made a rape joke and for normalising sodomy, sexual grooming, and pedophilia in a school setting? 

Will the school make a police report together with the father of the student that they have a sexual predator amongst them and that he must be dealt with by the law in the country?

Schools must listen to students when they speak up on sexual harassment or any kind of sexual approach made by teachers, support staff, and other members who are part of the school ecosystem. 

We encourage students to report any misconduct by teachers to their school authorities. But a ‘no-action’ reaction will only discourage others from doing so. Is this the kind of message we are going to pass on to the future leaders of our nation? That their voices are not heard and that their pain is ignored?

The language used by the teacher was nauseating and disgusting and is the tip of the iceberg, planting in the young, fresh minds of students that rape jokes, rape culture, sodomy, sexual grooming, toxic masculinity and even pedophilia are the norm and should be accepted by children – our children – the future leaders of Malaysia. 

From racist and sexist remarks to period spot checks and now to normalising this vile language that may one day turn into action, the education system in Malaysia is in dire need of an overhaul.

The irresponsible and ignorant manner in which the school has initially handled this grave situation by not addressing the rot in the education system and by taking a lackadaisical, ‘tidak apa’ attitude to the matter is something that has been happening for decades but it cannot happen anymore. Schools must stop protecting educators who are monsters towards our children. Teachers too need to be protected from these monsters. 

In this case, this gutsy student stood her ground to call ‘a spade a spade’ and acted as she should have – to report the matter to the school first but as stated by her, the initial approach has been very disappointing. 

I call upon the Minister of Education Dr Mohd Radzi Jidin to step in, take charge, and to break the rape culture by ensuring that stern action will be taken against the teacher for his language, his conduct, and for him to face the long arm of the law. 

I call upon the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina Harun to commit to tabling the Sexual Harassment Bill with no delay when Parliament reconvenes after months of ‘not sitting’ due to the Proclamation of Emergency by the Perikatan Nasional Government. 

I call upon the Prime Minister to take matters of our children in schools as seriously as he takes other matters and to ensure that this never happens again. As the former Minister of Home Affairs under Pakatan Harapan at one time, surely he must know the process of going after real sexual predators and not artists or activists. 

I applaud the student for being a voice of courage and conscience and to her family for being supportive in pursuing the matter further. It is unfortunate that she had to be subjected to this.

A government that has failed a child, is preparing to fail a generation. 

Kasthuri Patto
MP for Batu Kawan 
International Secretary for Wanita DAP

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