Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin paid a visit to a college in Kuala Lumpur last night following allegations that period spot checks had been conducted at the institution last week.
The source was reportedly a tweet from someone studying at the ERT Vocational College in Setapak.
It stated that the Twitter user and about 30 other girls aged 18 or 19 were rounded up at around 7.50pm on Oct 18. The girls were handed cotton buds and were told to prove that they were on their periods.
Former journalist Tashny Sukumaran, who revealed the source, said “these ‘period checks’ had stopped for a while after the furore earlier this year.”
“But they began again just because someone performed their prayers alone instead of with others at the hostel surau.”
Tashny also added that the college had been conducting these checks for quite some time despite student protests against the matter.
They were allegedly told, “If you feel uncomfortable about it, then perform your prayers.”
In Islam, girls and women who are menstruating do not perform ritual prayers. Such congregational prayers are commonly performed daily in residential or religious-based schools.
Tashny had previously tried to get in contact with Radzi on separate occasions to explain the situation at hand and asked for information on how to contact an Education Ministry committee that was being set up in June to investigate the allegations.
According to her, she had sent text messages to the minister regarding the allegation on Oct 19.
“They just suddenly ask us to kumpul and give up cotton bud to get the blood on it and show it to them to prove we really have our period.”
However, she said, the only information received was from a ministry official who supposedly told her that they have “no information” about the committee.
Malayiakini reported that Tashny then took to Twitter to pressure Radzi and the ministry to act.
“Bear in mind that this committee was being set up in June. It is now nearing the end of October. I would like to ask Twitterjaya to urge Radzi and the Education Ministry to look into this matter seriously.”
“If the committee has been set up, please share the details with the public so we can report these violations on girls,” she said.
After the allegations were made public, Radzi’s communications team announced that they were en route to the school and arrived at 11pm, one and a half hours after visiting schools in Sarawak.
The minister personally questioned the students away from their wardens and teachers to conduct their investigation.
Tashny tweeted the confirmation of this and added that “he also took notes, and his wife and several female officers were there. My sources say they felt more comfortable because of this.”
Radzi made his commitments clear to ensuring that period spot checks should be abolished and no longer practiced at any industry under his ministry.
“We will study the matters raised during the meeting. The Education Ministry is always committed to ensuring safe and comfortable schools and hostels. This is to provide a harmonious school for all,” Radzi said.
Let’s all hope for the safety and respect for girls all over. Such spot checks are simply a violation of personal privacy and are frankly, ridiculous.
If you know any institutions that are still carrying out period spot checks, do not hesitate to stand up and fight against it.