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Report: 41% Of Sexual Harassment In Schools Committed By Teachers & School Authorities

According to the All Women's Action Society (AWAM), the victims' peers (43%) and religious and non-religious teachers (38%) were the top perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Cover image via The True Net & Protect & Save The Children (YouTube)

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Warning: This story contains detailed survivor accounts of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

41.1% of sexual harassment cases reported by victims were committed by teachers and other figures of authority in school, according to a report published yesterday, 30 November

The report consists of 770 testimonies and they were compiled by Save the Schools MY (STS) — a platform created in April after teenage schoolgirl Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam grabbed national attention over the prevalence of rape culture in school.

The All Women's Action Society (AWAM) then analysed all the entries that were submitted to STS between 26 April and 13 August via Google Form.

AWAM noted that although the entries submitted are anecdotal by nature and that some of the stories had incomplete information, the non-governmental organisation says its communications team had done its best to ensure the information was accurately represented.

Photo for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bernama via Astro Awani

Of all the 770 testimonies analysed, AWAM said 204 (26.5%) of the respondents experienced multiple instances of abuse, which added up to 1,145 incidents

"Out of the 1,145 incidents of abuse, we identified a total of 1,495 violations," reads the report.

"279 (24.4%) of all incidents involved multiple violations."

The report says there are 1,046 sexual harassment cases (70%), 299 bullying cases (20%), period spot check cases (5%), and others (5%).

Of the biggest make-up of the incidents of abuse — sexual harassment — 386 (36.9%) respondents were verbally harassed, 368 (35.2%) were physically harassed, and 136 (13%) were gestural harassment.

"89.2% of all sexual harassment violations occurred in primary and secondary institutions of learning," it says.

Peers (43%) and religious and non-religious teachers (38%) were the top sexual harassment perpetrators

"Out of all perpetrators, 41.1% were figures of authority in school. Out of these perpetrators, at least 87.1% were men," AWAM said.

"851 (81.4%) sexual harassment violations were not disclosed or reported to anyone. In 71 (8.3%) of these violations, however, survivors either took action or suffered negative consequences."

50.3% of respondents who reported their sexual harassment encounters had 'no action taken' against their complaints, 36.1% were not taken seriously, and 13.6% were victim-blamed for their encounters.

961 (91.9%) of sexual harassment victims were female, while 55 (5.5%) were male.

524 (50.1%) of the victims were aged between 13 and 17, while 270 (25.8%) were aged between seven and 12.

"At least 76.7% of sexual harassment violations involved child survivors," it says.

A rape victim's testimony.

Image via AWAM

The report also highlighted that there were 10 cases of rape, 32 cases of child grooming, 20 cases of stalking, and 23 cases of power abuse

All 10 rape victims (2.7% of all physical sexual harassment violations) were female, with the youngest victim being only eight years old.

Five of the perpetrators were male students, while three were teachers.

"None of the survivors (except one) told anyone about the alleged rape violation. Nevertheless, five survivors still experienced negative psychosocial consequences," reads the report.

"One was shunned by her friends. Three were traumatised by the alleged violations, with one of them so severely traumatised to the extent that she developed dissociative identity disorder and underwent treatment for her condition."

"One was verbally bullied by her relatives, peers, and teachers — coupled with the alleged rape, these violations led to outcomes of traumatisation and self-harm."

"For that one survivor who did tell someone about the alleged violation, it was to her family, but only after they asked her about the pain and bleeding that she was experiencing at her private part. Whilst the perpetrator was transferred to another school, the principal also paid the family to keep quiet about the alleged rape violation."

Image via AWAM

In a statement accompanying the report, AWAM renewed its call for the Ministry of Education (MOE) to create a zero-tolerance culture against sexual harassment in learning institutions

"We cannot remain complacent in the face of decades of such widespread perpetration of atrocities," AWAM says in the statement, which was made available to SAYS.

AWAM suggests the government:
– Implement regular gender awareness and sensitisation training among school figures of authorities nationally
– Incorporate modules on gender awareness and sensitivity in the curricula and teachers' code of conduct in teachers' colleges or training institutions
– Update the 2011 guidelines on the management of sexual harassment cases and monitor its implementation in schools
– Address gaps highlighted by AWAM on the period spot check circular, specifically those on the need for clearer directives on reporting mechanisms, actions taken against perpetrators, and survivor redress

"The future of our children depends on the realisation of these actions. We must act now," the non-governmental organisation says.

Photo for illustration purposes only.

Image via New Straits Times

Click here to read the full report or you can visit STS' Instagram page to read some of the testimonies. 

The teacher accused of making rape jokes in class has filed a defamation lawsuit against Ain Husniza on 26 November:

Learn more about issues pertinent to #MakeSchoolASaferPlace here: