MP Kasthuri urges government ministries to table Sexual Harassment Bill with no delay

Media statement by Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP Kasthuri Patto on Tuesday 21 September 2021 in the Malaysian Parliament:

How much longer will the Ministry of Education turn a blind eye towards teachers who make sexual jokes towards their peers and students instead of probing and punishing them?

A report in Malaysiakini of a survey conducted by the Centre for Governance and Political Studies CENT-GPS and All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) stated that 44% out of 1056 women had witnessed teachers making sexually provocative jokes towards their peers. (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/592140)

A survey like this conducted with responses from 1056 women from the ages of 18 to 29 is a damning revelation that bad apples who camouflage as educators have been let off the hook too long and an inaction by the Government tantamount to being a party to this disgusting behaviour.

If teachers like these can brazenly make sexual, provocative jokes towards their peers, imagine the kind of mental and physical danger our children are exposed to.

To date, the only action taken on the teacher who made sexual remarks and trivialised rape and sodomy jokes to a group of teenagers is an NFA. This sort of a reaction by the authorities on a teacher who is recalcitrant on his misconduct spells disaster in the teaching fraternity.

Saying you care but dodging away from being accountable in following up and acting in the best interest of the child while rebuking and punishing these teachers is hypocritical in the highest order and calls for an explanation in the August House.

In 2019, an article carried by the Malay Mail (https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/26/teachers-who-sexually-prey-on-students-in-malaysian-schools-cases-and-actio/1813250) covered a detailed report on how the Government and civil servants acted and reacted towards teachers who acted as predators to their students instead of protectors. A number had been transferred and no news on other cases.

Teachers must be guaranteed that their careers will not be affected if they file a complaint against the character or conduct of their fellow peers and teachers must also be made aware that any form of sexual advances towards a student or a teacher will be dealt with by the heavy hands of the authorities.

It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to provide, protect and create a safe environment for students to learn, experience and absorb knowledge and wisdom from their teachers and for teachers to be able to live out their dream and passion to nurture, coach and inspire students to handle life’s curveballs and lemons.

A school must never ever be a place of tolerance towards sexual predators and paedophiles.

Comb, scour, scrutinise all reports of sexual misconduct of educators and set an example that there is no place for them amongst our children and fellow educators.

44% is equal to 465 women who have been denied protection by the inaction of the Government of the day.

Table the Sexual Harassment Bill with no delay and tighten the SOPs on dealing with monsters amidst our children in schools.

Transferring a teacher for sexual misconduct – whether it is through a rape joke, making sexual advances or physically and sexually violating a child must be dealt with by the long arm of the law and not given a yellow card and a light slap on the wrist as seen in the recent decision of a “No Further Action” on the teacher who made rape and sodomy jokes which was highlighted by Ain Husniza, a brave courageous girl who stood up for what is right sends a very dangerous message to educators and to public that the honour, dignity, integrity and prestige of the teaching profession can be bought and sold at a price.

Kasthuri Patto
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary of Wanita DAP

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