Protect students by ending ‘period spot checks’, not blaming them

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JUAN PABLO SERRANO ARENAS/ PEXELS

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

The senior education minister’s statement gives the impression that, as it is a tradition that was passed down from seniors to juniors, 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 the 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%) were teachers, ustazah, ustaz (religious teachers) 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.

While SIS recognises the circular dated 2 November issued by the Ministry of Education
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 education minister’s statement.

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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 imposed on those 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, headed by
its minister Rina Harun, 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 no place anywhere, especially in schools and institutions of learning. – SIS

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