Minister visits college after new 'period spot check' allegation
Education Minister Radzi Jidin visited a vocational college in Kuala Lumpur last night following allegations that “period spot checks” had been conducted at the institution last week.
According to former journalist Tashny Sukumaran on Twitter, a source studying at the ERT Vocational College in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, told her that she and about 30 other girls aged 18 or 19 were rounded up at around 7.50pm on Oct 18.
They were then given cotton buds and were told to ‘prove’ they were on their period.
“According to her, these 'period checks' had stopped for a while after the furore earlier this year, but began again just because someone performed their prayers alone instead of with others at the hostel surau,” Tashny (above) said, adding that the college had conducted such checks for some time.
When students protested that they were uncomfortable with the instruction, they were allegedly told “If you feel uncomfortable about it, then perform your prayers”.
In Islam, girls and women who are menstruating do not perform ritual prayers. Such congregational prayers are commonly performed daily in residential or religious-based schools.
According to Tashny, who is now a senior analyst at a think tank, she had attempted to contact Radzi and Education Ministry officials on several occasions to explain that she has received a complaint, and asked for information on how to contact an Education Ministry committee that was being set up in June to investigate allegations of period spot checks in schools.
According to her, she had sent text messages to the minister regarding the allegation on Oct 19.
Her college has been carrying out period checks for a good long while.
"They just suddenly ask us to kumpul and give up cotton bud to get the blood on it and show it to them to prove we really have our period."— Tashny Sukumaran (@tashny) October 26, 2021
However, she said, the only information received was from a ministry official who supposedly told her that they have “no information” about the committee.
Tashny then took to Twitter to pressure Radzi and the ministry to act.
“Bear in mind that this committee was being set up in June. It is now nearing the end of October. I would like to ask Twitterjaya to urge Radzi and the Education Ministry to look into this matter seriously.
“If the committee has been set up, please share the details with the public so we can report these violations on girls,” she said.
After the allegations were made public, Radzi’s communications team responded on Twitter last night that the minister had just finished visiting schools in Sarawak, and upon reading her tweets, was already making his way to the school and has asked for a full report from the ministry.
About one-and-half hours later, at about 11pm, the communications team announced that the minister had arrived at the school and was personally questioning the students in absence of their wardens and teachers.
[Update] .@RadziJidin kini sudah tiba di Kolej Vokasional Setapak.
YB bertanya sendiri pada pelajar sendiri TANPA warden & guru!
Makluman dari beberapa pelajar juga adalah mereka tidak berani untuk beritahu siapa2. https://t.co/UT5bQXuKX5 https://t.co/QYHIWDPrQG pic.twitter.com/N3lqguVbib— Radzi Jidin Comms (@DRJComms) October 26, 2021
In a statement later, the minister said he had come personally to the school to get feedback directly from students, teachers and the school principal.
He said he was accompanied by Education Ministry secretary-general Yusran Shah Mohd Yusof and director-general Nor Zamani Abdol Hamid during the visit.
“We will study the matters raised during the meeting. The Education Ministry is always committed to ensuring safe and comfortable schools and hostels. This is to provide a harmonious school for all,” Radzi said.
He also reiterated his commitment to ensuring that period spot checks would no longer be practised at any institution under his ministry.
Meanwhile, Tashny tweeted to confirm the meeting with the students had taken place in their teachers’ absence.
“He also took notes, and his wife and several female officers were there. My sources say they felt more comfortable because of this,” she said.
(1) The sexual predators whom we call school administrators