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THE unfolding story of a teacher apparently making rape jokes in a classroom of 17-year-olds is also a commentary on the social hierarchies of the public sector education.
It also raises many questions of where national education is failing the youth and the nation generally.
A rather more disturbing question is whether the young girl is being sacrificed on the altar of political ambitions.
It was clear that Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam was at a disadvantage from the moment she made the TikTok video alleging her teacher’s jovial treatment of sexual violence. From being the butt of numerous jokes, body shaming, a rape threat from a classmate to degrading remarks issued from a social media account belonging to her school headmistress.
In all this, the response from so-called adult to juvenile attackers bordered on the hysteria of a witch-hunt.
The underlying attitudes of these attacks were of outrage that a young persona – a girl at that – had the audacity to raise the curtain on the normalised and natural preserve of a male authority figure – and a teacher at that. It was just a joke said her detractors. Biasalah. Where’s the harm?
Well, the harm is that the audience consisted of a highly impressionable bunch of teenagers.
When an authority figure treats violence of any sort with such levity, this can have deep and lasting effects on an age group, which, for all its exposure to the world of social media, is still immature and unschooled about issues of sex and responsibility.
The teacher is expected to carry a moral authority that communicates the gravity and not levity of violence. The idiocy here is when a teaching authority seeks to find the “fun” in a topic that is not about “fun”.
The school in question missed an opportunity to use this incident to moot an awareness campaign on sexual violence in society.
Sexual violence as a topic may not be an examination subject, but schools do not exist just as exam preparation centres.
They have a duty to the nation to nurture humanity, wisdom, critical thinking and decent behaviour.
And if ever a time when such lessons were needed, it was when this incident occurred. But what we got instead was a siege mentality where the school and Ministry of Education appeared to hunker down and failed to respond immediately to this situation.
The immediate response, instead, were threats of further violence (indication of a lesson well taught?) and name calling. No wisdom, no moral high ground and no academic leadership; only clear attempts to hammer a young girl back into her “rightful place”.
A more worrying question is about the means by which prosecuting authorities decided on “no further action” against an individual who may have been party to sexual grooming of minors. The process this should be made transparent in public interest.
If this investigation involved questioning the remaining students of the class, it was bound to fail. Societal norms, school norms and gender norms all play a part in the way a young person in public education would answer questions.