Amongst these tumultuous times, a sea of infinite problems have seemed to pop up in a swirl of destructive rage. One such problem is sexual harassment – an issue that is deeply rooted in the culture of our society.
By definition, sexual harassment refers to unwelcomed sexual conduct that can be committed physically, verbally, psychologically or visually, causing the harassed to feel humiliated, offended or threatened.
It demonstrates the play on power between predators and their prey- and unfortunately, it seems that the predators have found a perfect hunting ground with docile prey.
With young and vulnerable school-aged children roaming around with no experience and knowledge about the darkness of this world, schools have been stained with a violent culture of sexual harassment.
2021 has yet to end and still, Malaysia has seen the rise of sexual harassment cases in the past year. Or to be more accurate, the true number of sexual harassment cases has finally come to light.
A movement that highlights the progress of our country
On these matters was started by a 17-year-old girl named Ain Husniza with her #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement which went viral after she exposed the toxic rape and sexual harassment culture among her own peers and teachers.
Despite facing an array of threats and ridicule after the whole debacle, Ain braved the challenges and is currently filing a counterclaim against her teacher who sued her an amount of RM1 million for defamatory remarks she allegedly made.
The counterclaim sought damages of RM5 million on the basis of intentional emotional distress caused by the rape jokes made by the teacher in question.
Another case caused intense netizen backlash when a video of a tuition teacher addressing himself as ‘daddy’ to minors became viral on social media. Sir Uzairi, a teacher under the famous online tuition program Mc PLUS, was caught under fire for his unprofessional conduct and was thus forced to resign from his job.
Adding fuel to the fire, students opened up on social media, particularly Twitter, to expose the man’s harmful endeavors.
Allegedly, Sir Uzairi had taken minors clubbing and had taken advantage of them by touching them without their consent. Also with the case of an actor Fauzi Nawawi with his immoral rape joke.
In today’s society, there exists a very shallow understanding on what sexual harassment really means. To many, the only valid form of sexual harassment would be physical touch.
Even then, without concrete proof of a victim being touched in inappropriate places, in most cases, the harasser would be able to be let scot-free with zero consequences.
The result? Countless victims are now shackled to the shame and mortification of being violated.
The convoluted notion that sexual harassment is inherently a victim’s fault or a result of weak will is harmful and it stems from the lack of understanding within our community regarding what exactly constitutes sexual harassment and most importantly, what its dangers are.
“She wore tight clothing and was not wearing a tudung!”
“He was trying to seduce me. He’s been acting all flirty the whole day so why am I not allowed to touch him there if that’s what he looks like he wants?”
“Boys will be boys! Girls should be the one to cover up modestly so boys don’t look at them in that way.”
“This generation is too soft. It was all just a harmless joke.”
“Boys can’t be raped. Only effeminate men would be weak enough to be raped.”
These are all common remarks spoken to invalidate victims of sexual harassment. With this, thus begins a never-ending cycle of victim-blaming and self-shaming. With every accusation shot down with the very same statements, a new sense of fear will then be instilled into other victims- therefore prompting them to not speak out about the harassment they’ve faced.
By allowing this sort of toxic practice and dangerous mentality to breed in our society, we’re thrusting the members of our community into situations of harm and vulnerability.
Sexual harassment: What can we do
What can we do to combat rape culture and increase awareness on sexual harassment? On a personal level, it’s best to nip it in the bud.
When a person you know makes an offensive joke that objectivies another person or trivalises rape, don’t be afraid to call them out and educate them. Similarly, avoid seemingly harmless things like ‘locker talk’ where sexist and inappropriate behaviour is disguised as mere humour.
Remember: all these rules applies to both men and women. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone- and to think otherwise would be a wrong move on your part.
Stay safe. Keep your loved ones safe. Do not let the line be crossed.