Fmtnews, Schools, Sexualharassment, Periodspotcheck

Fmtnews, Schools

Period spot checks and groping of students still going on

It has happened to boys and girls, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, say students.

22/4/2021 9:13:00 AM

It has happened to boys and girls, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, say students. FMTNews Schools SexualHarassment PeriodSpotCheck

It has happened to boys and girls, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, say students.

-April 22, 2021 2:11 PMFormer and current students, ranging from boys and girls of various races, reached out to FMT to detail their personal experiences.PETALING JAYA: Malaysian students have come forward to reveal the torment they face in public schools, including “period spot checks”, sexual harassment and public shaming.

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Former and current students, both boys and girls of various races, reached out to FMT to detail their personal experiences.One student, Aisyah, said her school in Sarawak required all Muslim students to read the Quran every morning before class during Ramadan.

Two years ago, Aisyah said she had to skip prayers and sit at the back of the surau as she was on her period. However, the ustazah (religious teacher) did not believe her and conducted a spot check in the toilet.“She put her hand between my legs to feel if I had a menstrual pad. I was so shocked, but I was too afraid to speak up. There was a spot check another day too, but that time I had to take off my underwear and give it to her in front of everyone to prove that I was bleeding,” she told FMT.

Florence, who graduated early this year, said she was often humiliated simply for being the only non-Muslim in her batch in the five years she studied at a boarding school in Pahang.She told of a history teacher who would pressure her to wear a tudung (headscarf), and question her classmates for not encouraging her to embrace Islam.

Florence added: “One night, there was a hysteria case in the student dormitories, so the seniors coerced me to wear a tudung, handsocks and socks so that demons would not come close to me.”In 2018, David was in Form Three when he was physically violated by a male discipline teacher for forgetting the lyrics to the school anthem.

“He placed his ear close to my mouth to check. When he found out I was just lip-syncing, he grabbed my buttocks and whispered into my ear: ‘Why aren’t you singing?’” said David, recalling that his teacher was smiling during the encounter.The former student at a school in Kuala Lumpur felt “relieved” when the teacher eventually let go, but said he was unaware that it was inappropriate conduct at that time.

A parent who wrote into FMT said such incidents were still happening today, as her daughter and son were currently experiencing similar issues at their public schools within the Klang Valley.One incident was of an ustazah who often singled out her Form Two daughter to ask why she wasn’t praying with the rest of the Malay girls. Her daughter had previously expressed her wishes to avoid praying in groups due to the high risk of contracting Covid-19 in schools.

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“Another time, her ustazah tried to discreetly record her response to not praying with her smartphone in her hand, but when she saw my daughter noticed what she was doing, she put the phone away. My daughter was never rude to the ustazah.“Finally, the ustazah threatened that if she didn’t pray, she would be sent to the school counsellor. At this point, I intervened and sent the teacher a WhatsApp message,” said the parent, adding that the religious teacher eventually left her daughter alone.

The parent added that her daughter’s primary school also held “period spot checks” to check if students were pretending to be on their period to avoid prayers.This made her daughter terrified whenever she changed her menstrual pads in school, because “she feared there would be a spot check and she wouldn’t have any ‘evidence’ to show”.

She also said her son was “constantly challenged by his peers to prove his ‘Muslim-ness’ by reciting verses from the Quran on the spot” because he did not look like a “typical” Malay.Priyanka said she once skipped out on a physical and health education (PJK) class in Form Five, as she was feeling unwell from her period pains.

The former student, who went to a national school in Selangor, said she and a few other students were called into the sports’ equipment room for a “period spot check”. The teacher believed they were lying to skip the PJK session.“I saw her touch and feel my friends’ pads from the outside of their uniform, without their consent. I didn’t cooperate and told her to write a complaint on the classroom report book instead. I received a demerit of 15 points for not being obedient,” said Priyanka.

Meanwhile, another ex-student, Uma, recalled her Standard Six maths teacher lodging a complaint against her for allegedly trying to seduce him for stretching her feet.“This was with shoes on and with socks high up to my knees,” said Uma, who is now in her 20s. The teacher also accused her of stealing his briefcase and demanded that the principal strip her off her post as a prefect.

“Some of the teachers sided with him, stating that I was capable of doing such things since my circle of friends were predominantly male.”Note: The individuals above agreed to tell their experiences on the condition of strict anonymity. All names have been changed to protect their identity.

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