NGO: Teachers to blame for 80% of sexual harassment cases

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Out of almost 300 sexual harassment cases in educational institutions, 79.4% involved educators and school authorities, the All Women’s Action Society (Awam) revealed today.

The NGO said it had analysed 275 testimonials on period spot checks, sexual harassment and bullying in schools that were shared with them over the course of 10 days last month.

“There were 311 perpetrators mentioned, of which 247 were teachers, religious teachers and wardens,” Awam said in a statement today.

In cases of period spot checks, it said these violations were committed in the context of “a normalised practice that was openly sanctioned and enforced by teachers, ustazah and ustaz”.

The analysis also found that there were 125 cases of period spot checks, 108 complaints on bullying and 88 for sexual harassment. While not all survivors revealed their age when they experienced these incidents, Awam said 99% of them were children.

Many of them reportedly experienced more than one form of the violation, and that it had occurred in primary, secondary and boarding schools, as well as colleges, daycare centres and school camps.

“The age subgroup of 13 to 15 when students, especially girls, experience pubertal changes, was found to be the stage when sexual harassment and bullying were most prevalent among survivors,” it said.

According to Awam, 6.2% of the survivors were male, and they had faced violations such as having their nipples pinched, their private parts groped and being forced to strip by figures of authority to check for signs of puberty.

Awam urged the education ministry to swiftly establish long-term solutions to ensure that educational institutions in the country were safe spaces.

It called for the ministry to work with civil society organisations to implement “gender sensitisation training” among school authorities nationwide and work with the Board of Counsellors of Malaysia (Lembaga Kaunselor Malaysia, LKM) to improve counselling services in schools.

LKM is a statutory body under the women, family and community development ministry.

The group also called for a change in the curriculum and code of conduct in teachers’ training colleges to include gender awareness and sensitivity. – FMT