2021 has indeed been a year of revolution and changes! We’ve seen the rise of activism predominantly, amongst youths. From organising protests, and standing up against corrupt authorities and an unsafe national system, Malaysian youths have indeed proven their bravery and valiance in tackling the injustices occurring around them. While many from the older generation have grown accustomed to the perception that youths should just focus on their future and leave advocacy work to the experts, the younger generation seem to have a different stance towards this.
Being eager to participate and engage in nation-building activities makes the youth of today all the more prepared to be the future leaders of the country — a step higher than their older counterparts! Notable examples of youth activism include the success in tabling and passing the Undi18 bill. Despite the current hiccups in implementing it, the nation saw two inspiring youths (Qyira Yusri and Tharma Pillai) being at the forefront of this history-making decision back in 2018.
Moving into the current pandemic and the endless series of Movement Control Orders have not deterred the youth of today from fighting back. 17-year-old Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam might seem like your regular girl next door at first glance but currently, she’s fighting for a greater cause — to make schools a safer place. Following the RM1 million defamatory suit filed by her ex-PJK teacher, she’s definitely not giving up without a fight. This time, it’s a fight to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
As a result of this defamatory suit, Ain is now filing a RM5 million counter suit! Her lawyer, Datuk Sankara Nair said the counter suit will be filed on the basis that Ain has been subject to emotional distress. Adding on, he said a formal letter of demand intending to counter-sue for RM5 million will be sent on Monday.
Speaking today, at the Sungai Buloh district police headquarters, Ain, who appeared shaken and nervous said, “I was very nervous and scared, as much as any 17-year-old would feel, when I was called in by police. All I want is the feeling of safety in schools. I did not intend to insult, defame or degrade any party. All I want is for schools to be safe.”
She has also taken the opportunity to thank Malaysians for her support and further stated that the ongoing police investigations would not deter her from speaking out or continuing her mission to make schools a safer place. Currently, Ain is being investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentionally insulting with the intent for such provocation to threaten public space. If found guilty, she would face an imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both.
However, today, Ain, instead of going through this alone, received solidarity from Sungai Buloh MP, Sivarasa Rasiah, Petaling MP, Maria Chin Abdullah and Seputeh MP, Teresa Kok. All three of them were present at the police station — slamming the decision to initiate investigations against her!
Maria Chin said, “This action is no different than ‘killing the messenger’. I hope the police report against Ain Husniza will be revoked as all this is unnecessary.” She also said that this move sends the message that it is acceptable for teachers to make rape jokes in schools.
Adding on to this sentiment is Teresa Kok who implied that the sexual harassment bill should be tabled in Parliament and further recounting her experience of being a victim of sexual harassment in the Dewan Rakyat, she deeply empathises with Ain’s cause. She stated, “The way the school is treating Ain Husniza is extremely unjustifiable. It is also unnecessary for her to be questioned; she’s only a schoolgirl.”
Sivarasa, has expressed his anger towards the Education Ministry. He was deeply enraged that a young student has been harassed and threatened. “I view this issue as a severe failure by the Education Ministry as it should have controlled and handled this matter from the start. This is serious; this is a matter of sexual harassment in the classroom. Instead of this, she should be given protection,” he said.
This counter suit is a brave move, indeed! Well, if you’re shocked with a 17-year-old girl seeking for justice, this isn’t the first time something like this happened. On 2nd April, 18 Malaysian youths, aged between 18 and 20, sued the prime minister, the federal government and the Election Commission (EC) in a bid to ensure those aged 18 and 20 can register to vote by July 2021 instead of only after September next year.
Nevertheless, we hope that justice would be served for Ain and hopefully, the perpetrator should be reprimanded for his actions. Rape jokes are not funny and this just normalizes rape culture! Let’s all do our part in making schools a safer place.