Rape jokes are not funny, says Malaysian Olympic diver Pandelela Rinong

·3-min read
Pandelela shows her gold medal after the women’s 10m platform final at the Fina Diving World Cup and test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre May 5, 2021. ― AFP pic
Pandelela shows her gold medal after the women’s 10m platform final at the Fina Diving World Cup and test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre May 5, 2021. ― AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — National diver Datuk Pandelela Rinong has hit out at those who make light of sexual violence, stating rape is no laughing matter.

Her comments come after actor Fauzi Nawawi apologised for saying, during a recent appearance on talk show Rumah No. 107, that he enjoyed filming a rape scene for the film Anak Halal. The scene ended up being cut from the film’s final edit.

The Olympic silver medallist recalled how she had to train for seven years under a former coach who constantly made sexually inappropriate jokes while the authorities protected him.

She said when she finally spoke up, she was bullied instead.

“In the past, I too had a coach who loved to make lewd jokes and I always either kept quiet or fake laughed. That one time I decided to speak up against him, instead I was bullied in return. Seven years later he was accused of rape.

“The saddest part about those seven years was every year he would do something bad. However us as athletes couldn’t do anything because he was backed up by our own head coach.

“Moral of the story, we need a good leader who can right what’s wrong instead of turning a blind eye to evil, and those abused must speak up please! Small voices still matter if we are united,” she tweeted today, with the hashtag #rapejokeisnotfunny.

In 2017, Chinese national Huang Qiang, who was a coach in the national diving programme, was charged in the Sessions Court with raping a national diver, who was aged 20 then, in a dry gym at the National Aquatics Centre, Bukit Jalil Sports Complex in Sri Petaling.

He was later acquitted after the prosecution withdrew its appeal in the Court of Appeal.

Following that, the national diving setup was disbanded and former head coach Yang Zhuliang was relieved of his duties.

Former sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin in response to Pandelela today, said he received criticism from sports journalists for his actions in disbanding the national diving setup.

“Thanks for speaking out, Lela. There are still sports journalists who criticise the decision that we made to shake up Malaysian diving in light of these allegations a few years ago. I would make the same decision every single time,” he said.

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