24 SEPTEMBER 2021
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) would like to address comments made by the Secretary-General of National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), Wang Heng Suan, on the survey on the experiences and perceptions of 1056 18-to-30-year-old female respondents.
Firstly, contrary to the survey being ‘inaccurate and wrong’ due to the ‘unfair and irresponsible’ respondent sample as commented by Mr. Wang, our survey abided by the scientific benchmark of 1000 respondents for survey samples that are representative of the population surveyed. Furthermore, the sample size provided adequate representation of the 16-million sub-population of Malaysian women, in light of a confidence level of 95% and margin error of 3%. We would also like to clarify that our preliminary survey targeted Malaysian women specifically from 18 to 30 years old and not the entire Malaysian population, hence the quoted percentage of 0.003% is inaccurate.
It is unfortunate that NUTP is taking this stance of refuting the survey. The aim of the survey is not to tarnish the reputation of any particular group of people or profession, but rather to continue our work on highlighting that cases are of sexual harassment are happening and are not being addressed properly. Even if only a few women are complaining of sexual harassment, we cannot brush those complaints aside; rather, we must investigate properly and take proper action to ensure that the situation does not repeat itself.
Secondly, it must be noted that the survey results did not note that 44% of teachers make sexually provocative jokes. The results stated that 44% of the surveyed 1056 18-30-year-old women have witnessed sexually provocative jokes from teachers. The survey thus sampled young women aged 18 to 30 years old, not teachers. Those are two very different things, with different sample sizes and population sizes.
We are open to communicating directly with Mr. Wang to present our survey findings, in order to ensure that he has an accurate idea of the survey findings and their implications. Furthermore, we are also open to working with NUTP on providing trainings on sexual harassment awareness and prevention for the aforementioned purpose of empowering teachers to be more capable in handling sexual harassment and creating sexual harassment-free school spaces for all students in Malaysia.
The aim of the survey is to show that there is a systemic culture of sexual harassment in the country, to the point that women do not feel safe in public places. This is not the Malaysia that we want. We want a Malaysia that is safe for all women and men. Thus the need is high for an Anti-Sexual Harassment law that is survivor-centric, which ensures quick, safe and easy access to justice, as well as legally mandates all institutions to establish effective preventive and redress mechanisms to address sexual harassment.