In solidarity against rape culture and sexual harassment in schools, the Nationwide School Walkout Day (NSWD) Alliance – a coalition of non-governmental organisations, said its proposed “walkout day” this week was necessary to reflect this position and spread awareness on the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement.
While some loved the idea, the National Union of The Teaching Profession (NUTP) was not having it.
According to Malay Mail, NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan was interviewed by Astro Awani asking to comment on NSWD. Instead of addressing the issue, he questioned the moderators on “facts and data” to prove whether the problem is occurring nationwide.
“How is it a widespread problem? Where are the statistics? Where is the data? Who are they talking about? How many schools are involved? We have 450,000 teachers in the country, we have 10,000 schools. How many schools are they talking about?” he responded.
Watch the video here:
“How is this a widespread problem? Where’s the data? How many schools are we talking about?” says Harry Tan, Sec-Gen of NUTP when asked by @melisa_idris & @sharaadkuttan if the Teachers’ Union is concerned abt abuse allegations in schools. #ConsiderThis at https://t.co/6oMihRqLO5 pic.twitter.com/4pfprdlNCb
— 🇲🇾Astro AWANI🇲🇾 (@501Awani) May 6, 2021
Today (6 May), DAP’s Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei has chided the NUTP representative for denying sexual harassment allegations and the prevalence of rape culture in schools nationwide.
“Point-blank denying students’ sexual harassment complaints, asking for ‘facts’, refusing to engage in any meaningful investigative work, zooming in on one student’s exposé and dismissing the issue entirely. Harry Tan has failed students,” she commented on the interview.
Another DAP assemblyman Michelle Ng, also expressed concern over the matter and said that Tan’s comment resembled the problems that students face in schools.
“I feel gaslighted, hearing Harry Tan’s answers. Maybe it’s leadership like this that contributes to the problems kids face in schools,” she posted on her Twitter.
Meanwhile, the deputy executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Yu Ren Chung also said that Tan should have focused on willingness to act against the issue instead of downplaying it.
“Studies show abuse is common among children in Malaysia, including by teachers. Surveys show sexual harassment is common in Malaysia, including in schools and universities. Many girls have spoken out about their experiences. ‘No data’ is not the problem. It’s our willingness to act,” he said.
ICYMI, the NSWD Alliance announced its call to students and teachers, last Friday (30 May) to participate in the walkout by being absent from one school day or one class period, both online and offline on 6 and 7 May.
Sebagai tanda bantahan terhadap situasi berkenaan #MakeSchoolASaferPlace, kami sedang mengatur Hari Hartal Sekolah utk menuntut perubahan di sekolah. Pakatan NSWD terdiri daripada para aktivis dari Monsters Among Us, Demokrat Kebangsaan, Young Democrats Malaysia & Rape Watchdog. pic.twitter.com/k0swQtg9vX
— National School Walkout Day (@nswdmy) May 4, 2021
“We hope to spark change and to advocate for immediate and long-term systemic reforms in schools with regards to how sexual harassment and other practices that result from rape culture is handled.
“While education on the matter is just as important, the walkout calls for students to exercise their right in demanding safer school environments and clearer frameworks in investigating allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct on school grounds,” it said.