Malaysian primary school textbook to be revised after outrage over 'victim-shaming' content

Malaysian primary school textbook to be revised after outrage over 'victim-shaming' content
PHOTO: Pixabay

PETALING JAYA - An immediate revision has been ordered on a Year Three textbook critics say told girls they would be ostracised and bring disrepute to their families if they did not protect their modesty.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said she met with the department in charge of national school textbooks following outrage over the content in the Pendidikan Jasmani dan Kesihatan textbook.

"The meeting concluded the info- graphic was against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"The infographic is also gender-biased and the captions are sensitive to some.

Problematic text: The textbook's lesson places the burden on girls to protect their modesty or risk social alienation and reprisals. 
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

"The department is meeting with the Curriculum Development De­part­­­­­ment and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka to iron this out and any other mistakes in the textbook.

"We will also look into preventive measures," said Teo.

Malaysians said the infographic, which was shared online, was guilty of victim shaming.

The graphic tells the story of a girl named Amira who takes precautions such as wearing modest clothes and changing behind closed doors.

It goes on to say if Amira does not take care, she would be shamed and ostracised, bringing disrepute to her family.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said blaming and shaming girls is not right.

"Boys need to be taught how to respect girls too," said Yeoh.

Women's Aid Organisation vice-president Meera Samanther said such content teaches young girls they alone are responsible for their safety and family honour, ignoring the role of adults and the state in protecting children.

"Nine-year-old girls are not ­sexual objects and should not be thinking about their dignity," said Meera.

The Pixel Project Founder Regina Yau said while the move to start sex education at Year Three was commendable, the approach was "absolutely inappropriate".

"Why is there not a page teaching boys to also take responsibility for their own actions?" said Yau.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Kamarozaman Abd Razak questioned if the book followed content guidelines set by the ministry.

"Textbooks in primary schools need not have words that are sexual in nature or materials that would affect the public," he said.

Malaysians on Facebook also voiced their anger.

"Regardless of how you are dressed, be it children or adults, (rapists) will still rape.

"The fault is always on the person who commits the crime, not the victim," said Kee Tze San.

"(It) doesn't teach anything about helping victims," said Sharon Teo.

Tom Leng tweeted such teachings were the reason why young victims of sexual assault did not report or reveal their encounters to family, friends or the authorities.

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