Punish the period spot checkers

Punish the period spot checkers
By Zan Azlee

The excuse of using religion to justify extreme actions is something that I cannot stand for. Think about how extremist groups like the Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) use religion as a justification for violence. Nobody likes them because all they do is kill people.

But violent extremism comes in many forms. Sometimes it may not even result in death or physical injuries. Psychological abuse and trauma has equally devastating results to people’s lives. Post-traumatic stress disorder that people in conflict zones (or even victims of bullying) suffer from is real.

The recent news that broke about “period spot checks” is something that must be addressed. Almost everyone that I know did not seem shocked at all when the news surfaced about teachers and school wardens checking private parts and sanitary pads of students to make sure they are really having their menses.

Apparently, this is a common practice that has been going on for decades in schools. As you probably have read in all the media reports now, so many women were subjected to it, and many are now suffering all kinds of trauma because of this, which is totally unnecessary for anybody to have to go through.

What is the reason for all of this? Do they want to catch out students who use period cramps to skip classes? Do they want to punish students who claim they are on their period to avoid fasting? So in order to do this, you shame and traumatise children and scar them for life?

Education for our children should be formed on a basis of trust, love, respect and happiness. A child that is happy and trusts the adults who are educating them and caring for them will have no reason to do anything to betray. Trust me.

My wife and I know because we have three children and we have tried many methods of parenting them. What we have found is the most effective form of educating them and disciplining them is through trust, love, respect and happiness. Definitely not through fear, anger and extremism. It’s actually quite common sense.

Just like education, religion is another thing that needs to be inculcated through trust, love, respect and happiness. I have had my fair share of ustaz and ustazah who weren’t very nice and used fear to teach religion to me. I guess I am lucky to have never been harassed or abused like the women who have spoken up.

I talk to my parents a lot about religion and never once has my father ever said to me that I had to pray or else I would be faced with eternity in hell. He would always stress on logic, common sense and rationale. My mother is the same way. To her, everything about religion is all love and kindness.

So far, only opposition members have come out to voice their stand against the sexual harassment and abuse that has been going on. Not a single government official, especially from the Education Ministry, has said anything against it. In fact, Deputy Education Minister Muslimin Yahya was reported to be “reserving his comments”.

Yes, Mara chairperson Azizah Mohd Dun had voiced her opposition towards the issue. She does not agree with it and said that she will review the complaints that have been coming in. Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Nor had condemned the measures, saying that religion did not call for these things.

We need more people to condemn it. Government authorities, religious authorities, everyone and anyone should express condemnation regarding the issue. Let it be loud and clear that Malaysians do not stand for things like this happening to our children. Repeat it and risk sounding like a broken record even.

Clearly, what has been happening is just wrong and evil. We should not teach our children to fear their teachers, school and religion. By doing so, all we’re doing is to push them further and further away. Not to say that our teachers are all bad, but in general, teachers need to be better people.

Action needs to be taken to address this issue. Decades of it happening is just too long. Something needs to be done to put a stop to it now. I implore the authorities to fix the problem. This is too dangerous to just sweep under the carpet and pretend like it is nothing. There should be no place for extremism in Malaysia.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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