Teachers’ union slammed for ‘failing students’ after dismissing complaints of sexual harassment, rape culture

Lim slammed Tan for denying sexual harrassment allegations and the prevalence of rape culture in schools nationwide. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Lim slammed Tan for denying sexual harrassment allegations and the prevalence of rape culture in schools nationwide. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — DAP’s Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei has chided a National Union of The Teaching Profession (NUTP) representative for denying sexual harrassment allegations and the prevalence of rape culture in schools nationwide.

“Point-blank denying students’ sexual harassment complaints, asking for ‘facts’, refusing to engage in any meaningful investigative work, zooming in on one student’s exposé and dismissing the issue entirely.

“Harry Tan has failed students,” she commented on Astro Awani’s interview with Tan, who is NUTP secretary-general.

Another DAP assemblyman Michelle Ng, also expressed concern over the matter and said that Tan’s comment resembled the problems that students face in schools.

“I feel gaslighted, hearing Harry Tan's answers. Maybe it's leadership like this that contributes to the problems kids face in schools,” she posted on her Twitter.

The deputy executive director of Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) Yu Ren Chung also said that Tan should have focused on willingness to act against the issue instead of downplaying it.

“Studies show abuse is common among children in Malaysia, including by teachers. Surveys show sexual harassment is common in Malaysia, including in schools and universities.

“Many girls have spoken out about their experiences. ‘No data’ is not the problem. It’s our willingness to act,” he said.

Tan was interviewed by Astro Awani asking to comment on National School Walkout Day (NSWD) today, in solidarity against rape culture and sexual harassment in schools.

Instead of addressing the issue, he questioned the moderators on “facts and data” to prove whether the problem is occurring nationwide.

“How is it a widespread problem? Where is the statistics? Where is the data? Who are they talking about? How many schools are involved?

“We have 450,000 teachers in the country, we have 10,000 schools. How many schools are they talking about?” he responded to the hosts' question on whether the issue is widespread.

Ahead of the event today and tomorrow, NSWD Alliance said recent revelations of “rape jokes, sexual harassment and period spot checks” made it indefensible to stay apathetic to such unsafe practices in institutions of learning.

The NSWD Alliance, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, said its proposed “walkout day” this week was necessary to reflect this position and spread awareness on the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement.

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