Former ministers Rafidah Aziz and Azalina Othman Said have expressed shock and anger at reports stating period spot checks are a common practice, particularly in boarding schools.
“That is totally disgusting and a violation of a person’s privacy. No religion gives such permission.
“The Education Ministry must act to put a stop to this nonsense and lay out clear ground rules on how schools including boarding schools treat students,” Rafidah told Malaysiakini.
She said there was absolutely no excuse for anyone to invade another person’s privacy in such a manner, no matter what the reason.
“We should not allow the schooling environment to evolve into a dictatorial one, with policing like measures, beyond what is expected,” said Rafidah who served as a cabinet minister from 1980 to 2008.
Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina was no less reticent saying it was pure harassment.
“This is moral and religious policing that oversteps the basic human right to dignity.
“It’s a violation and pure harassment. I’d be traumatised for life,” said the Pengerang MP.
Today, Malaysiakini reported that in multiple schools in Malaysia girls have to undergo “period spot checks” where they are told to physically prove they are on their period through means which violate privacy.
This is according to current students and those who left school up to 20 years ago.
The measures include showing their blood-soaked sanitary pads, doing swabs of their vagina with either cotton buds, tissues, or their fingers, or having a teacher, warden or school prefect pat them down at the groin to feel if they are wearing a sanitary pad, they said.
Over a dozen individuals reached out to Malaysiakini in less than 24 hours after a call for stories was made. They recalled how the behaviour towards menstruation at boarding schools was “shameful” but was accepted as “normal practice”.
A key trigger was the practice of teachers or seniors demanding “proof of menstruation” from girls who did not join daily congregational prayers which are commonly held in residential or religious-based schools.
In Islam, women or girls who are menstruating do not perform ritual prayers.
Rafidah added that the policy appeared to be a discriminatory one.
“This smacks of discrimination when female students are the targets.
“Parents must be proactive, as groups, to monitor such transgressions, and put a stop to it,” she said.
Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor earlier told Malaysiakini that no one should embarrass another by checking the private parts of the individual for any reason because everyone has self-dignity that must be respected by others, including the right to cover the private parts of their body from being seen by others.
“Islam strictly forbids its followers from looking at other people’s aurat, even on the pretext of performing the required duties such as to prevent a female student from making excuses to abandon the obligation of prayer,” Wan Salim had said.
The practice was also condemned in a joint statement by the All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Sisters In Islam (SIS) and Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kendiri Wanita dan Gadis (Women:Girls).
Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister Muslimin Yahaya said he still had not received any information on the matter and as such, was reserving his comments.
“I have not been informed yet, I will issue a statement when I receive the report. Thank you, ” he told Malaysiakini today.