On the evening of 21st of May 2021, from 5pm to 6:30 pm, an Instagram Livestream event titled “Make Schools a Safer Place” was held by the Amnesty Malaysia BAC Club. The main speaker of the Instagram live was 17-year-old Ain Husniza, a student activist who recently started the #MakeSchoolsASaferPlace movement after an uncomfortable encounter where her male physical education teacher made a “joke” about rape, while implying that it was okay to rape people who were above 18 years of age. This live stream was held with the intention of discussing the topic of gender equality and sexual harassment, specifically within a school setting.
Soon after Ain posted a video on TikTok that showcased her male physical education teacher joking about rape with her fellow male classmates, the video went viral. Although she received much support from the public, she also received inevitable backlash on various platforms and accusatory comments that blamed her for tainting the school’s and teacher’s image. Ain then lodged a police report against her teacher and another male schoolmate, who had sent her an audio rape threat because he was upset with how she had acted against the male teacher involved. In light of this disturbing encounter, Ain was motivated to expand the #MakeSchoolsASaferPlace movement, which promoted the educational livestream session on Instagram.
Ain was joined by Keshika Ravichandran and Shobita Nagulendran, who acted as moderators during the livestream. Together, they shed light on the desensitization of sexual violence among minors and the clear gender disparity between male and female students, while attempting to amplify the severity of this issue to initiate change that would make school environments more conducive for learning.
During the session, Ain argued that she is a “victim of injustice” just like many students before her. She claims that as students, they should have the right to stand up for themselves without being shamed and discredited and that they should be given a voice instead of being silenced or manipulated in situations like the one she experienced. “We all deserve that kind of safety in school,” she says, emphatically. Ain encourages the viewers to demand accountability and action from those in power or relevant upper management, as she highlights the crucial need for immediate change – to avoid situations like these from happening again. The girls agree that it has become a norm where students are expected to be compliant and passive when dealing with issues such as sexual violence within a school setting and they strongly advocate for impactful change.
An emphasis was put on the fact that this movement is not exclusive to female students alone and that male students are encouraged to speak up as well. Sexual violence was discussed as a human rights issue and not something that occurred based on gender. It was made clear that although there are certain preconceived notions in place, and that gender can impact the way in which these situations differ, at the end of the day; “both genders face the same problem.”
The livestream had managed to attract many viewers and with the hopes of educating people and raising awareness, the girls had informed discussions on the topics of sexual harassment and gender equality. It was an influential and thought-provoking session for both the hosts and viewers alike.
Click here to watch the full Instagram Livestream!