06 July 2017

Media Statement

The Malaysian Academic Movement (Pergerakaan Akademik Malaysia, GERAK) is alarmed by the reported mishandling of the recent sexual assault cases involving two international exchange students in University Malaya. In representing an institution of higher learning, the University Malaya management is responsible for not only ensuring that academic standards be met but also for providing a conducive and safe environment for learning. It is, thus, of paramount importance for an academic institution to handle such cases professionally and ethically.
Undoubtedly, it is important that due process be followed. Nonetheless, this need not be at the expense of denying the rights of a complainant to lodge a police report. A sexual attack is traumatic for any victim as it violates their bodily integrity. The victim is made even more vulnerable by the institution when it fails to protect him/her or provide proper redress.
GERAK urges the University of Malaya management to fulfill its pledge to take such cases seriously, investigate the cases thoroughly, and, if the perpetrators are found guilty, mete out sentences that reflect the severity of the offenses. Sexual assault cases cannot be willed away by sweeping it them under the carpet. This will only send the wrong message that the university only cares for its name and reputation but not the well-being of its very own staff and students. This will also send a wrong signal to perpetrators or potential attackers who will be emboldened to carry on such offenses. It is only when proper and effective measures are taken to prevent and remedy such cases that potential attackers will be deterred and the campus community be reassured that their safety is of utmost concern to the University Malaya management.
GERAK also calls for an investigation into the mishandling of the sexual assault cases to send a message that University Malaya does not condone such unethical and unprofessional action in the name of the University. The alleged sexual assault victims deserve no less than that and it is proper that if the said officers are found to have erred in their actions, the university would be responsible enough to offer an apology to the alleged sexual assault victims who were twice victimized - first, by the perpetrator and, second, by the very institution that is supposed to protect him/her. The university management should expect no less from the members of its community that they be responsible members of society.

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