#bukansalahkamek exhibition: Breaking the silence on sexual violence in Sarawak

Tan (right) calling members of the public to support and visit the “#bukansalahkamek” campaign.

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KUCHING, Oct 15: Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS)’s “#bukansalahkamek” (#notmyfault) campaign wants to break the silence and encourage conversations on sexual violence issue to create a safer community for all.

An exhibition as part of the anti-sexual violence campaign is currently ongoing at Block E in the Old Courthouse until Oct 20 in conjunction with the What About Kuching (WAK) 2019.

Programme coordinator Kimberley Tan said the exhibition aim to increase awareness about the seriousness of sexual violence as a social issue in Sarawak.

“SWWS shares the public concern that sexual violence can happen in both public and private spaces, and our message is that it should not be tolerated anywhere,” she said in a press release today.

“Keeping quiet sustains a culture that ignores acts of sexual violence and emboldens the perpetrators. That’s why our campaign wants to break the silence and stimulate discussion,” she added.

The campaign, which was inspired by the global #metoo movement, focused on situations in the local community.

Tan said there were many lived realities of women who faced sexual violence such as child sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, cyber grooming, blackmail and stalking.

Sexual violence is a personal and destructive crime that can result in physical, mental, sexual, reproductive, and other health problems, she continued.

“Rape culture is an environment in which sexual assault or violence is normalised through media and popular culture, including the consumer culture,” she said.

“Only by discussing sexual violence will we create greater empathy for survivors, accountability for the predators, and greater inclusiveness in the way we set safety standards,” she added.

What must change, Tan said, was the current language existing around this issue and be one step ahead with prevention.

“Changing how we may further educate children, students and the general public ways they can contribute in eliminating enabling conversations leading to rape culture and creating a safer community for all,” she said.

Emphasising that language can enable open conversations or close them down, she pointed out that to challenge the rape culture and move to prevention, people need to learn how to have helpful conversations.

“This will make the community safer and give the needed support to those who have experienced sexual violence. Let their stories be a wake up call for all to play a part in changing current societal norms,” she added.

Tan thus called on people to create a society that speaks supportively of survivors, encourages help seeking and does not condone perpetrators but promotes respectful behaviours towards each other.

She added that it is also important that the public can identify causes of sexual violence and pushes for education on personal safety from a young age so children speak up at the first signs of inappropriate behaviour towards them.

“All are welcome to visit the exhibition, read the reality of people abused and pledge their support to measures which address the problem including calling for the speedy enactment of the proposed Sexual Harassment Act for Malaysia,” she said.

The exhibition is open for viewing from Monday to Thursday from 11am-2pm, 4pm-9pm and Friday to Sunday from 10am-9pm.

Entrance is free to the public. For more information, do contact Tan at 011-36593445. — DayakDaily