Voices of protest mount over accounts of female students being humiliated during “period spot checks” as a minister and a deputy minister questioned over their silence on the matter.
DAP Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching today questioned why the education and deputy minister on information have remained silent about accounts of female students being humiliated during “period spot checks.”
Despite the matter being raised by the public, Teo said the minister and deputy minister have yet to comment on the said teachers’ actions.
“Our girls are being humiliated in schools, when will the education minister and his deputies finally speak up?” she asked in a statement today.
As a former deputy education minister during the Pakatan Harapan administration, Teo said there were no guidelines that allowed teachers to carry out such exercises.
“So why have these spot checks been happening?
“And what shocked us is, to date, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has not issued any statement on this.
“One Senior Minister with two deputies, all males, seem insensitive and cannot be bothered by this horrific incident?” Teo said, adding that even the Penang Mufti has spoken up, condemning the action.
She also pointed out that schools should be a safe place to educate children academically and instil values and show them about love and humanity.
Malaysiakini reported that girls in multiple schools had to undergo “period spot checks” where they are told to physically prove they are on their period through means which violate privacy.
This is according to current students, and those who left school up to 20 years ago.
The measures include showing their blood-soaked sanitary pads, doing swabs of their vagina with either cotton buds, tissues, or their fingers, or having a teacher, warden or school prefect pat them down at the groin to feel if they are wearing a sanitary pad, they said.
Over a dozen individuals reached out to Malaysiakini in less than 24 hours after a call for stories was made. They recalled how the behaviour towards menstruation at boarding schools was “shameful” but was accepted as “normal practice”.
The president of the Association of Islamic Doctors of Malaysia, Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail, also said he saw the act of checking private parts to prevent students from skipping prayers as excessive.
Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj, professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Medical Education (Clinical Teaching) with the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said such actions encroach on women’s privacy and she does not see why it has to be done this way.
And Fadhlina Sidek, head of legal and community development of Wanita PKR, said she objects strongly to period-shaming.
“The act of groping girls to make sure whether they are menstruating or not is sexual harassment, while the act of asking them to show their bloody pads as evidence of menstruation is a crime of bullying, degradation, and disturbs the emotions of girls,” Fadhlina said.
Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor had told Malaysiakini that no one should embarrass another by checking the private parts of the individual for any reason because everyone has self-dignity that must be respected by others, including the right to cover the private parts of their body from being seen by others.
“Islam strictly forbids its followers from looking at other people’s aurat, even on the pretext of performing the required duties such as to prevent a female student from making excuses to abandon the obligation of prayer,” Wan Salim had said.
The practice was also condemned in a joint statement by the All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Sisters In Islam (SIS) and Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kendiri Wanita dan Gadis (Women:Girls).
Meanwhile, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) said it has launched an internal investigation to look into the alleged sexual harassment and abuse at Mara Junior Science College (MRSM).
Its chairman Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun in a statement said Mara took the allegations seriously and will not compromise any misconduct involving Mara staff, let alone the safety of students at its educational institution.
“Stern action will be taken against those found to be involved, according to the provisions of the existing regulations to ensure a conducive learning environment and safe from any threats.
“This includes sexual harassment, as well as the exploitation of women and children.
“Mara will provide full cooperation to the authorities to ensure the image and credibility of Mara Educational Institution (IPMA) is always preserved.”