As period spot check probe unresolved, new minister urged to take action

·3-min read
As period spot check probe unresolved, new minister urged to take action
As period spot check probe unresolved, new minister urged to take action

When the Perikatan Nasional government led by Bersatu collapsed, one of several matters it left unresolved was an investigation into period spot checks at schools.

With a new education minister expected to be named and sworn-in soon, there are expectations that this matter would be high up on their list of priorities - especially for when students return to the classroom.

For the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), the incoming education minister must set up mechanisms to address reported complaints on the practice of period spot checks.

The group claimed that the Education Ministry - which functions for the welfare of students - had yet to take sustainable action on the matter.

“They must speed up (the probe) and take the issue very seriously. The new minister must look into setting up mechanisms to address complaints from students in a way that’s independent from external influences, and centred solely around student welfare,” WAO told Malaysiakini.

WAO’s remarks were similarly echoed by Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.

Yeoh, the former women, family and community development deputy minister, expressed her hopes that the new government will be one that is focused on working for the people, especially on issues affecting children in Malaysia.

“It took a lot of courage for these girls to speak up and there must be reciprocal courage by the authorities to fix it by at least issuing a circular to ensure such practice is immediately stopped,” Yeoh told Malaysiakini.

She added that executive powers were meant for such instruction to do good.

Separately, Teo spoke on the need for an independent and professional committee in the Education Ministry’s investigation on the matter.

“We need an independent and professional team to conduct the probe. The team must have NGO, MPs, (and) non-MOE personnel.

“At the same time, the Education Ministry should issue a directive in (order) to prohibit such behaviour to serve as a reminder that we all need to respect the privacy of our students. Promote mutual trust and respect,” she told Malaysiakini.

In June, former education minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said that the ministry was in the final stages of forming an independent committee to look into existing procedures that addressed complaints on the practice of period spot checks in schools, as well as other related matters.

Key details on the probe’s committee have yet to be disclosed to the public.

The ministry’s initial investigations - which was carried out in response to public outcry and reported complaints - were said to show no indication that such practices and other disturbing incidents had occurred.

These incidents - some of which date back to 20 years ago - allegedly include showing blood-soaked sanitary pads, performing vaginal swabs with either cotton buds, tissues, or fingers, or having a teacher, warden or school prefect pat the students down at the groin to feel if they were wearing a sanitary pad.

In response to the inconclusive investigation, Malaysiakini submitted a list to the former education minister, which named 15 schools where female students were allegedly subjected to period spot checks to prove that they are menstruating.

A copy of the list was also sent to Radzi’s deputies, Muslimin Yahaya and Dr Mah Hang Soon, as well as the ministry’s secretary-general and Corporate Communications Department.

The list was sent along with other details, such as the dates of alleged offences (most of which dated from 2011 to 2018) and the wardens or teachers who were named by the students.

The names of the alleged victims were not included in the list.

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