Can We Lay Victim Blaming To Rest Please?
It is 2021. Since the birth of the #MeToo movement, the world has started taking the issue of sexual harassment much more seriously and provided the necessary support for victims of said abuse. But…can we honestly say we are doing the same?
Based on the recent reports flying in about our police and their endeavors at roadblocks, it would appear that we have not yet learnt how to deal with the issue of sexual harassment. Our police force are meant to make us feel safe. They are there to serve as a pillar of justice and to ensure that criminals are dealt with. Unfortunately, the appalling fact is that our ‘protectors’ themselves are behaving like the people that they are supposed to keep us safe from.
To make matters worse, some netizens are even calling out the victim for egging on the police officer by not wearing a brazier. (WHAT?!). Our society seems to love victim-blaming, claiming that the way the victim dresses is inappropriate or they shouldn’t be walking or speaking in a certain manner. I can’t say for certain where exactly this ridiculous culture stemmed from but I do know that it needs to end immediately.
In an attempt to deal with her ordeal, the victim took to social media to express her opinions regarding the incident that transpired and to perhaps gain some support from her fellow Malaysians. But what did she get instead? She got criticism saying “it’s her fault for failing to dress appropriately”, “she asked for it”, “this is not western country” and “I won’t blame the officer for what he did”, among others.
Such behavior not only silences victims from speaking out about their abuse, it may also inflict re-traumatisation of past sexual harassment incidents. It also puts the spotlight on the victim rather than the perpetrator resulting in the a situation where the victim is punished more than the actual would-be rapist.
Although the sexual harassment bill is looming above waiting for it to be passed, can we honestly say it is enough given the way our society is currently behaving?
If we as a whole fail to recognise that this incident at the roadblock was a blatant case of misconduct and misuse of power, then I highly doubt the passing of the sexual harassment bill will be sufficient to deal with issues like this.
How can we…a nation that prides itself on unity… be so divided on such a transparent topic.