By Marissa Nazeera
During the holy month of Ramadan, we often relate it to a month where all Muslims fast and perform ibadah for the whole 30 days. However, not many of us are educated or aware that not all Muslims are obliged to fast under certain circumstances. Women on menses is one of the categories that are excluded from fasting throughout their menstruation period during Ramadan.
In schools all over in Malaysia, the Unit Pendidikan Agama Islam will prepare numerous activities for Muslim students to participate during Ramadan. For example, tadarus al-Quran, dhuha prayer during recess period, iftar ceremony, taraweh prayer and many more. All of these activities are needed to be done together in groups and no one can be excused.
Hence, for female students, they are still obliged to observe their ‘fast’ at schools too, though the fact that they may not be able to fast at all. Due to some activities that can never be performed by them, such as praying five times a day and the additional night prayers, it leads to the issue of teachers and wardens carrying out period spot checks to find out if the young girls were really on period or not.
Here, the students are now being outspoken and have started to share their horrifying experience on Twitter of being groped since the last few days. Female students told how they have been asked to enter the toilet with a female teacher or warden to check together the blood on their pads or tampons, or are even required to swab and show the blood in front of the teachers.
This is a clear proof of invasion of one’s privacy. Even if the students were telling lies or even nothing but the truth, the teachers and wardens have no right to go beyond such extent. After all, this act can cause psychological and physical trauma to the students when they are being groped and harassed at such a young age.
Some of the female students may have had their menstruation at an early age and it does not give the teachers or wardens a free pass to doubt their statement. The teachers or wardens can straight away call the parents to confirm the statement made by the students and not to take any action on their own. This is not only a humiliating experience, but can also be an eternal hell of trauma for the students. It is due to the fact that no one would be fine if they are asked to show their own menses blood to public or even to have their private parts examined by a stranger.
Female students are just normal human beings like us all, and shall be treated with utmost respect. Some are even embarrassed when they experience leaking in public, and obviously they would feel embarrassed too when going through the period spot check. Furthermore, the act is not only done during Ramadan, but also frequently during prayer times in order to ensure everyone’s attendance during congregational prayers.
Section 354 of Penal Code had stated that this action can be understood as a crime to assault or the use of criminal force to another person with the intention to violate their modesty. It has also been provided that such an action can carry a sentence of imprisonment of a maximum of ten years and or a fine and or whipping.
Not only the law forbids such an act to be done by anyone, Islam forbids it as well. As stated by Penang Mufti, Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor, he is against such conduct of behaviour to be carried out on school girls. He stated that Islam does not allow for children to be treated in such an insulting manner. Thus, it clearly shows that no one should play ‘God’s’ role because the ibadah is all between man and God, and no other person shall monitor one’s daily ibadah performance.
Therefore, there shall be no forcing in inviting others to perform the ibadah. In addition, one’s bad action can never justify their good niyyah or intention. After all, respect is to be earned and not to be sought from students.
If the teachers and wardens want to be respected by the students, they shall respect the students’ boundary and privacy too. Period spot checks and gropings should not be normalised in our country, and shall never be made a norm at all even in the name of Islam. Islam does not teach us to be doubtful against one another and to always respect each other’s boundary. ***