In 2018, the global movement #MeToo gave courage to people of all genders to speak out about their experience with sexual harassment and violence.

As 2020 approaches, we see a continued wave of brave individuals who want to break the silence and hold abusers accountable. 

In a recent survey done by YouGov Omnibus, it was reported that over a third of Malaysian women and one in six men have experienced sexual assault.

The research also found that only half of those who have faced sexual assault reported or told someone about the incident. 

Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov commented: “Due to a lack of official statistics surrounding sexual harassment in Malaysia, we wanted to find out how prevalent the issue was. What is surprising is the number of sexual harassment cases that go unreported, and the reasons behind it. It’ll be interesting to see if these figures change in an age of #MeToo.”

The stats show that women are more likely to report an incident than men, and this is likely because of the stigma that surrounds victims.

According to YouGov Omnibus’ survey of 1,002 Malaysians, amongst those who have reported the incident, most told a friend (54%) or family (51%) as opposed to the police (15%).

Data collected reported that the main reasons people chose not to report their sexual harassment or assault is due to embarassment, the feeling that no one would do anything about the problem, and fear of repercussions.

A Lifetime Struggle

It’s truly haunting how apparent sexual harassment and violence is. The fact that this is something all women can relate to shows the significance of this issue.

Growing up, the precautions to take to prevent sexual harassment or violence was repeated over and over to me.

Being born or identifying as female in a patriarchal society, these are the eggshells you have to carefully tiptoe upon to make sure you don’t fall victim to abuse.

If only we put the same significance in educating men on the importance of treating not just women, but people in general with respect, maybe real change will take place. 

The spectrum of this recurring issue is a wide one. Women from all over the world share the same fear.

We want to be independent but we fear walking down a quiet alley alone. We want to be able to speak our minds when someone makes a comment of a sexual nature to us, but fear backlash. We want to share our story of being victimised but fear being blamed instead.

I can go on and on about all the facts that oppress us into speaking our truth and taking a stand, but will you listen and be the change with me?

As a society, we like to put the blame on others because responsibility seems too hard of a pill to swallow.

Oftentimes we shame victims into thinking that their assault was asked for. We don’t put ourselves in their shoes and feel the fear and hurt they are going through before we carelessly make an insensitive comment.

We value honour over the truth and silence those who are abused. Rather than making sure it never happens again, we let abusers walk free.

If you still equate virginity to purity and sexual liberation to promiscuity then you still have a long way to go in freeing those at the hands of patriarchy.

So What Can We Do?

Have you experienced sexual assault or violence? Or would you like to know more about the topic?

Neo SPICE Co. & Se(sh) is hosting a half-day event consisting of open sharing, panel discussions, reflection sessions, poetry readings and activities centred around creating awareness on sexual harassment and sexual violence.

The event will cover what sexual harassment is, and the panel discussion will focus on how it impacts a person.

With safe space sessions and reflective sessions in between, we will also take a more personal outlook on the issue in Malaysia, learn how others have coped and healed from it, and what we can do to become an ally for this cause.

To register, please fill in the form here.

You Too for #MeToo

When: Nov 30th, 2019

Where: APW, Bangsar

All Image Credit: NeoSpice Collective

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