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Pandelela Speaks Up Against Rape Jokes After Being Bullied By Former Coach

She said the coach also always "did things" and got away with it every year.

Cover image via Bernama/The Borneo Post

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National diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong has spoken up against rape jokes after actor Fauzi Nawawi was seen making light of sexual violence on a talk show

In a series of tweets, Pandelela recalled a former coach who often made sexually inappropriate jokes during training, and eventually committed rape.

She shared that she was so scared of him that she always had to fake laughter and was even bullied when she told him to stop.

"In the past, I had a coach who liked to make lewd jokes. I always kept quiet, if not, I'll fake a laugh because I was afraid of him," she said in a tweet today, 21 October.

"There was once I couldn't stand it and confronted him about it, but I got bullied in return. Seven years later, he committed rape," she added with the hashtag #rapejokeisnotfunny.

She said that the saddest part was that in those seven years, he "did things" and got away with it every year

"We athletes couldn't do anything, because his biggest back-up was our very own head coach," she revealed.

However, she said the diving team is now happy with the national sports association that protects and cares for them.

As a moral to her story, Pandelela said the country needs good leaders who can tackle sexual harassment issues and not turn a blind eye to the problem.

"And those abused must speak up, please! Small voices still matter if we are united."

In response, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin thanked Pandelela for speaking out

"There are still sports journalists who criticise the decision that we made to shake up Malaysian diving in the light of these allegations a few years ago. I would make the same decision every single time," said Khairy, who was formerly the Youth and Sports Minister.

Pandelela agreed that she does not regret the decision to speak up either, despite the judgement and pressure to perform with every competition.

"Athletes' safety from physical and mental abuse over medals. All day, every day," Khairy added.

In 2017, former national diving coach Huang Qiang, a Malaysian citizen who was originally from China, was charged in court with raping a national diver, then 20 years old, at a gym at the National Aquatics Centre in Bukit Jalil.

According to New Straits Times, he was acquitted and set free by the High Court in February 2020 after a reasonable doubt was raised in the prosecution's case.

Following the charge, the Ministry of Youth and Sports also decided to relieve then head coach Yang Zhuliang from the national diving programme, despite having successfully trained medal-winning athletes during his time there.

If you or someone you know may be at risk or has experienced sexual abuse or assault, please reach out to these Malaysian organisations:

1. WOMEN'S AID ORGANISATION (WAO)
Operating hours: 24-hour
Contact: +603-30008858
SMS/WhatsApp: +6018-9888058
Website | Facebook | Twitter

2. ALL WOMEN'S ACTION SOCIETY (AWAM)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9.30am - 5.30pm)
Contact: +603-78770224
WhatsApp/Telegram: +6016-2284221 | +6016-2374221
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

3. WOMEN'S CENTRE FOR CHANGE PENANG (WCC PENANG)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm)
Contact: +604-2280342 | +604-3988340
WhatsApp: +6011-31084001 | +6016-4180342
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

4. SARAWAK WOMEN FOR WOMEN SOCIETY (SWWS)
Operating hours: Monday (7pm - 9pm),Tuesday to Thursday (9.30am - 11.30am), Saturday (2pm - 4pm)
Contact: +6082-368853
SMS/WhatsApp: +6016-5822660 | +6013-8044285
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

5. SABAH WOMEN'S ACTION-RESOURCE GROUP (SAWO)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm)
Contact: +6088-280200 | +6011-27908020
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

6. PROTECT AND SAVE THE CHILDREN (PS THE CHILDREN)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday (3pm - 12am)
WhatsApp: +6016-7213065
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

7. INTERNET WATCH FOUNDATION (IWF)
Anonymously and confidentially report child sexual abuse content and non-photographic child sexual abuse images with IWF's Reporting Portal.

Actor Fauzi Nawawi has apologised for joking in an interview about enjoying a rape scene he acted in:

Malaysia has had a concerning slew of sexual harassment and abuse cases in the past year:

Malaysia is also in a global minority of countries that lack essential legislation against sexual harassment: