By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Aug 17: Federal and State police including the Immigration Department and Education Department have been urged to take prompt action and step up their efforts to arrest the teacher who had allegedly raped and molested several students in a secondary school in Bintulu.
Urging for prompt action to be taken, Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah also called for a thorough investigation including but not limited to Section 376 of the Penal Code for statutory rape and Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
“To the perpetrator, you may run or hide, but the long arm of the law will get you.
“The suspect’s salary has been withheld as he had not turned up for work for a period of time. This is a civil and criminal case.
“The case has been referred to the Disciplinary Board of the Management and Professional Group, Sarawak State Education Department,” she explained of the actions that have been taken at a press conference at her Ministry’s office in Baitulmakmur Building 2 here today.
According to Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad, the victim along with her father lodged a police report on July 29 following advise from teachers as it was understood that the alleged sexual assault took place two months ago.
Thereafter, the victim and her father also reported the case to the Bintulu’s Welfare Department where the underage student was immediately placed under the protection of a safety officer. Since then, the victim has undergone two sessions of counselling on July 29 and Aug 4.
“She is not attending school physically yet, but would have to due to examinations. After the examinations, her father suggested for her to be transferred to another school so she could continue studying in a new environment.
“She is coping and slowly recovering from the trauma, but still feels embarrassed or ashamed because her friends in school already learnt about the case,” Noriah said.
While schools should be a safe and secure place with trusted staff, Fatimah was saddened by the fact that this is not the first incidence of sexual abuse reported in schools.
“Teachers are supposed to be a figure of authority, respect and trust, but sadly for these innocent children, it was a case of ‘harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi’.
“They will be psychologically affected, perhaps for life,” she said.
As such, she pointed out that when reports are made, it is essential that authorities take prompt action to thoroughly investigate the case as well as to take every measure to ensure the safety of the young persons or victims.
“Rape survivors must be given all the support needed, including medical and psychological services.
“More importantly, the community at large from school to where she lives need to show more empathy and understanding towards the victims, instead of actions that would further victimise and stigmatise the victims,” she added.
Fatimah also urged other victims of the same alleged perpetrator, if any, to come forward as each of them deserve justice.
She gave assurance that the Ministry will do all it can including mobilising all resources to support and help the victims overcome their traumas, minimise the impact for underage victims so their education will not be badly affected as well as to make sure they receive justice. — DayakDaily