PETALING JAYA: Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) tonight called for the police to ensure that all staff, from the administrative to the highest levels of leadership, were gender-sensitive in their language.
This follows a remark by deputy inspector-general of police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, when commenting on a rape threat made against a teenager.
The NGOs said that gender responsiveness was crucial in enabling law enforcement authorities to effectively address cases of gender-based violence.
They added that it was important to be “survivor-centred in approach” when it comes to conducting detailed investigations.
And this, they said, entails being aware that discourse – or how one talks about and frames issues – has tremendous power in perpetuating or challenging existing public narratives, preconceptions and biases surrounding gender-based violence.
“In this case, the deputy IGP’s few words that indirectly sanction rape culture may be more than enough to prevent more survivors from coming forward, while at the same time eroding public trust in the police’s capabilities in protecting survivors as they seek redress,” the NGOs said in a statement.
The statement was jointly issued by the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Bulan Sisters, Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kendiri Wanita dan Gadis (WOMEN:girls), Sisters In Islam (SIS) and Tiada.Guru.
They went on to demand Acryl Sani apologise for his remark “perhaps (over) the jokes by classmates (which) cannot be accepted”, when commenting on a teenager who had lodged a police report.
The NGOs say that by stating this, it would imply that the teenager was being unnecessarily emotional upon being threatened with rape and this only perpetuates public narratives that rape and rape threats should not be taken seriously.
It also prejudges the results of any police investigation.
“Through this comment, the deputy IGP also simultaneously normalises the occurrence of rape threats, essentially giving current and potential rapists a field day in pushing boundaries by exercising a range of non-physical violations before the committal of rape that include sexual harassment.”
Earlier today, Bukit Aman denied that the deputy IGP described reports of teen rape as “a joke” and alleged that headlines of two media outlets on the issue were confusing.
In a statement, it said the police took any report lodged “seriously”.
The girl, 17, had lodged a report that a classmate had threatened to rape her after she called out her teacher for making jokes about rape.