NOVEMBER 19 — This statement is in response to the Senior Education Minister, Datuk Radzi Jidin’s statement that female students who were subjected to period spot checks in schools thought the practice was a tradition passed down by seniors on juniors as featured in Malay Mail’s article published on 15 November 2021: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/11/15/period-spot-checks-typically-done-by-senior-students-on-juniors-education-m/2021120 (Headline: Period spot checks typically done b y senior students on juniors, Education minister tells Parliament)

Senior Education Minister, Datuk Radzi Jidin’s statement in Parliament where he mentioned that period spot checks is a tradition practised among school seniors on their juniors and that the students were unaware that such checks were not official, is a cause for critical concern.

The statement made by the Senior Education Minister gives the impression since it is a tradition that was passed down from seniors to juniors that students were to blame for period spot checks. This also begs the question, if they were conducted by teachers, wardens or any staff of the school, would these checks be regarded as official and condoned? Why is this disgusting culture practised in schools in the first place?

The statement is contrary to the analysis conducted by All Women’s Action Society (Awam) in April 2021 on sexual harassment and bullying in educational institutions in Malaysia where 275 testimonials were collected through social media and messaging apps. The analysis found that the perpetrators were mainly figures of authority within schools. Out of 311 perpetrators, 247 of them (79 .4 per cent) were teachers, ustazah, ustaz and wardens. While there were student perpetrators such as prefects and senior students, especially for period spot checks cases, these violations were committed in the context of a normalised practice that was openly sanctioned and enforced by teachers, ustazah and ustaz. (Reference: https://www.awam.org.my/2021/05/24/moe-lets-makeschoolasaferplace/)

Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin speaking at a press conference at the Tan Sri Abdul Rafie Auditorium, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Education Department, Kuala Lumpur, April 28, 2021 — Bernama pic
Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin speaking at a press conference at the Tan Sri Abdul Rafie Auditorium, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Education Department, Kuala Lumpur, April 28, 2021 — Bernama pic

While SIS recognises the circular dated 2 November 2021 issued by the Ministry of Education ( MoE) directing the prohibition of physical check-ups, particularly period spot checks as a step to end the practice, we urge the MoE to provide the statistics on period spot checks from their investigation or inquiries or research on this issue to support the Senior Minister of Education’s statement. The statistics must also include the total of schools and educational institutions officially visited by the MoE and the number of students interviewed.

We also demand that the MoE provide a clear directive on the processes and procedures to be reported by the students if period spot checks are still conducted in schools and other educational institutions. Are the students able to report to the school, principal or other relevant education authorities and in the absence of such processes, that they will not be penalised if they report directly straight to the police?

What kinds of sanctions or punishments will be taken towards the individual/individuals who conduct period spot checks? Will counselling be provided for students who have undergone period spot checks? SIS also calls for the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD) headed by Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, the Minister of MWFCD to come forward to make schools a safer place by ending period spot checks. It is gravely disappointing when a ministry that is responsible to protect women, children and the community chooses to stay silent on this vile and repulsive practice that has noplace anywhere, especially in schools and institutions of learning.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.