A group of 11 MPs and 27 state assemblypersons from the Selangor Pakatan Harapan have blasted the Education Ministry for its poor handling of the case of Form 5 student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, who recently exposed her male teacher for allegedly making lewd jokes in class.
In a joint statement, they warned that Ain was likely to be a victim of a failed system if the Education Ministry did not intervene as instead of lending support, she has been served with a warning letter for being absent from school.
"Ain Husniza is now a victim of a failed system that does not understand nor support girls’ and women's rights but instead sees itself fit to defend teachers and students who promote rape and its culture of violence.
"Despite the strong policy to promote gender equality and to develop respectful relationships between boys and in the 11th Malaysia Plan, such perspectives appear to be lost when it comes to frontline educators.
"The tendency now is to make light of the violence and to give permission to boys to rape girls 'above 18 years old'.
"Therefore, one can only deduce that the rape joke carries with it a possibly dangerous and implied message that if you have sex with a woman above 18 years, you can argue for consensual sex and get away with it.
"There is definitely a miscarriage of justice. The person who dares to voice up against such culture gets penalised by her own school while the teacher who made the joke and the student who made the rape threats against Ain, both get away with not even a slap on the wrist," said the political representatives.
Ain's father Saiful Nizam Ab Wahab said the letter dated April 28 stated that Ain can be expelled if she skips school or fail to notify the school management reason for being absent. This was despite him having informed the school principal that Ain felt unsafe to go to school.
The political representatives also referenced allegations that Ain had received negative remarks (since deleted) on social media from the school's principal, over which Malaysiakini has attempted to contact the Selangor Education Department and the said school principal.
"Intentionally or not, the comments have further given license to other educators and students to view jokes about violence against women as acceptable as well as to demean anyone who dares to question the status quo.
"Ain has been denied her school education and is now forced to possibly move to another school.
"Yet the school has ignored Ain's education right and has not made attempts to ensure the environment is safe for Ain to return back to school. This is unacceptable as children will take the cue from their educators and rape jokes will be normalised," said the representatives.
They said the handling of Ain's case leaves a black mark in democracy and sends youth the message that those who speak out will be regarded as dissidents, agitators, or worse, now labelled as satan.
They also referenced the fact that the Education Ministry has not made any mention of Ain's case, but instead only focusing on the concurrent issue of period spot checks.
"The ministry is expected to ensure justice is served but has chosen to ignore the elephant in the room.”
They strongly urge the ministry to review the education system and take stern disciplinary actions.
"There is an urgent need to raise awareness on gender sensitivity among teachers and students, as respect, equality and justice are values that Malaysians would want to have for a better nation.
"A Gender Equality Act as proposed by Pakatan Harapan must be in place to ensure our girls and boys are protected.
"Moving forward, the ministry has to reinstate the good name of the educational institution so as to uphold its long-standing reputation to develop first-class citizens," they said.
The statement was signed by:
Selangorstate assemblypersons -
Juwairiya Zulkifli (Bukit Melawati)
Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan)
Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Seri Serdang)
Lee Kee Hiong (Kuala Kubu Baru)
Tony Leong Tuck Chee (Pandamaran)
Hee Loy Siang (Kajang)
Ganabatirau Veraman (Kota Kemuning)
Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof (Dusun Tua)
Bryan Lai (Teratai)
Lau Weng Sang (Banting)
Rozana Zainal Abidin (Pematang)
Khairuddin Osman (Paya Jaras)
Rodziah Ismail (Batu Tiga)
Dr Idris Ahmad (Ijok)
Syamsul Firdaus (Taman Medan)
Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar (Meru)
Borhan Aman Shah (Tanjong Sepat)
Halimey bin Abu Bakar (Seri Setia)
Lim Yi Wei (Kampung Tunku)
Wong Siew Ki (Balakong)
Shatiri Mansor (Kota Damansara)
Zawawi Mughni (Sungai Kandis)
Gunaraj R George (Sentosa)
Azmizam Zaman Huri (Pelabuhan Klang)
Mohd Sany Hamzan (Taman Templer)
Jamaliah Jamaluddin (Bandar Utama)
Rajiv Rishyakaran (Bukit Gasing)
and MPs -
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Pandan)
Tony Pua (Damansara)
June Leow (Hulu Selangor)
Charles Santiago (Klang)
William Leong (Selayang)
Maria Chin Abdullah (Petaling Jaya)
Ong Kian Ming (Bangi)
Wong Chen (Subang)
Sivarasa Rasiah (Sungai Buloh)
Dzulkefly Ahmad (Kuala Selangor)
Husanuddin Mohd Yunus (Hulu Langat)