LETTER | The recent reports of “period spot checks” which occurred in a boarding school have unveiled an ugly truth that for decades has been haunting many Muslim and non-Muslim female students in learning institutions under various educational streams.
During such spot checks, female students are usually instructed to show physical proof that they are menstruating either by producing a soiled sanitary pad, showing tissue swipes of menstruation, or in some extreme cases, having their crotch groped by the teacher for evidence of a sanitary pad.
This practice is evidently commonplace in boarding schools and even some day schools either by teachers, school prefects, or fellow students who are assigned this despicable task by their teachers.
Teachers and students who have defended the act claim that it is to make sure that female Muslim students do not “lie” about their menstruation and are fit to perform their religious obligations such as praying and fasting.
Non-Muslim students are asked to show proof of menstruation so that they do not skip physical and health education activities.
Many female students have silently suffered trauma and humiliation after being subjected to such checks; often done in the presence of other students and witnesses.
This revolting practice is a clear violation of the students’ rights, especially their rights to privacy. It is nothing less than sexual harassment and abuse. Indeed, it signifies abuse of power by the teachers and other `official’ perpetrators.
Gerak strongly condemns this stone-age practice in all learning institutions. We call on the Education Ministry to investigate this matter and take immediate and strong actions against teachers who practice it.
Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for students to get an education and to learn. And teachers are obligated to provide the students with a conducive space to enhance their learning, and not to violate the students’ rights and privacy.
It is high time that the practice of force in religious teachings in a learning institution is scrutinised and immediately discontinued.
Gerak also believes that there must be a policy in place to redress such violations in learning institutions, including providing counselling services for students who have been subjected to such abuse.
The offending and abusive teachers should be dismissed from the teaching profession and the parents of the affected students should consider taking legal action against them.
The above is issued by the Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) exco.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.