Several more federal and state lawmakers from Pakatan Harapan have rallied behind student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam in a growing solidarity movement after she was threatened with expulsion from her school for missing classes after she revealed a teacher’s rape joke.
The online movement dubbed “#StandWithAin” gained widespread traction amongst Opposition lawmakers and Malaysians on Twitter who held up placards in support, with lawmakers such as Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming and Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen expressing their solidarity.
“#GenerasiKita No girl should be called ‘anak setan’ for speaking out. Say NO to cyberbullying! #StandWithAin,” Kelvin posted on Twitter in reference to uncouth comments made against Ain by her headmistress on Facebook.
Other state lawmakers voicing similar sentiments included Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei, Subang Jaya assemblyman Michelle Ng, Ketari assemblyman Young Syefura Othman, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi Zi Sen and Ayer Keroh assemblyman Kerk Chee Yee.
In a series of comments, the Facebook account of the principal Sarimah Mohamed Nor (named “Aimanaizah Sarimahmohamednor”) called Ain “hypocrite”, “Satan’s spawn wearing headscarves”, and told Ain’s parents to “educate her with manners”.
The comments were left on a post promoting Ain and her mother Niza Sharifudin’s appearance in a Facebook live session with Khadijah Learning Centre on the topic of speaking up.
Apart from federal and state lawmakers alike, cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque better known as Zunar also conveyed his firm support to Ain, stating that no one should be labelled Satan’s spawn.
Meanwhile, the school expulsion warning letter sent to Ain has sparked concern from a parent’s group.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said it is “outrageous” that she had received a warning letter for not attending school while the teacher who made the inappropriate rape joke and the student who allegedly threatened to rape her had supposedly not been reprimanded.
Mak added that this letter will damage the school’s management and teachers’ reputation.
“The school’s management and the Education Ministry owe us an explanation as to why this action is being taken when her father had already met with the school’s management,” he told The Star in a statement.
“Are we educating the students that raping someone above the age of 18 is fine or are we waiting for rape to happen rampantly, like in some other countries, before justifying action,” he said.
Mak also questioned the message being given to students with the issuance of the warning letter.
“Magpie feels that Ain should not be threatened for bringing up this issue.
“Instead, we should be grateful to her for her boldness to bring up such wrongdoings in the school.
In a tweet at about 1am Sunday (May 9), Ain said she received the first warning letter of her expulsion for not coming to school for three days.
Ain, who goes by @ant33ater on Twitter, said: “On the same day the letter was sent, (that) was the same day my father met the principal and she said she supported me on that day but went ahead and did this the same day.”
“The teacher himself and the boy that made the rape threat didn’t get any action taken on them, but I’m getting expelled. This would ruin my life,” she said in a post.
Ain made headlines after she lodged a police report against a male teacher for allegedly making rape jokes in class, a move that sent shockwaves through the nation.
She had also lodged a report against a group of schoolmates who allegedly made rape threats against her following her first police report.
However, her father Saiful Nizam Abdul Wahab was quoted as saying that the case (against her schoolmates) will be recorded as a no further action (NFA) by the police after the schoolmates and their families sought forgiveness from Ain’s family.
The guidelines say there would be a second letter if the student does not attend school for seven days after the first warning and the final letter, another seven days of absence from the second letter.
The student will be expelled after 14 days of absence from the final warning.
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak) has also blasted the threat of expulsion by Ain’s school
“Gerak is appalled at the news, and sadly and ironically, as this is happening, we have heard nothing about actions being taken against the offending teacher.
“Ain’s brave exposure has had reverberations nationwide.
“She has revealed a rape culture that is evident in our educational institutions, despite defensive dismissals by those involved and, sadly, a lack of will and wisdom on the part of the Education Ministry to address head-on this very real – and very frightening – problem facing our students,” said Gerak chairperson Zaharom Nain in a statement.
“Rape, as we and others have stressed, is a violent crime and must not be treated facetiously. Rape culture must be addressed and destroyed.
“Ain has bravely spearheaded a movement that will lead to greater awareness and, hopefully, much-needed action for reform and a safer learning environment for our students,” he added, on behalf of Gerak’s exco.
Zaharom said Ain has awakened and even empowered many who may have been aware of this very serious problem in our environment, yet have either swept it under the carpet or have been too timid to do something about it.
“For that alone, Gerak stands firm in the belief that Ain and her actions must be applauded. She must not be penalised and victimised for doing the right thing.
Zaharom said punishing the victim is not the way of an enlightened society but the way of barbarians.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong has dived into the controversy surrounding Ain’s call to make schools a safer place, offering encouragement for the Form 5 student to keep on speaking up.
Taking to Twitter, Pandelela responded to former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s solidarity message for Ain.
“Just like when I was trying to #makesportasaferplace, I was being called DIVA, with double meaning.
“Dear Ain, I strongly advise you to stay alert as you might get sabotaged if you are not careful. However, keep speaking up for our future! @ant33ater #MakeSchoolASaferPlace,” said the national diver, who recently bagged a gold medal at the Fina Diving World Cup women’s 10m platform category.
Since her initial TikTok video and tweets on exposing her male teacher for allegedly making lewd jokes in class, Ain has gained public attention through her appearances in forums and media interviews.
Rather than focusing on Ain’s opinions, uncalled for comments were made about her physical appearance, including her choice to wear a headscarf in a promotional poster for an NGO-hosted discussion alongside her mother earlier today.
Lawyer Siti Kassim took to Twitter and questioned Ain’s choice to cover her hair, advising the 17-year-old’s family against being used by certain people.
Ain, however, insisted it was her personal decision to do so and urged Siti to stop judging people by their appearance.
Many on Twitter had voiced support for Ain’s message to Siti, pointing out how she had shown more maturity in her arguments than most adults.