A media personality, Petrina Kow, posted on her Facebook page a story when her 13-year-old daughter came home full of tears on Monday (16 January) after a talk on crime prevention by a member of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
Ms Petrina said that somewhere between warning them about sexual predators and taking precautions, came a very disturbing statements about how girls are ‘responsible’ and ‘asking for it’ if they wear short skirts because the boys’ can not help themselves.
She said that even though the students, boys included, raised their concerns, the teachers did not step in to mediate this very dangerous narrative.
Her daughter then said that the room was visibly agitated and apparently the kids got scolding from the teacher in charge after the guest left for being ‘rude’ and asking him ‘difficult’ questions.
Later on, she wrote another post saying that she had met the teacher and the Police to discuss about the matter.
Ms Petrina said that the teacher had explain to her how the situation was and how the school addressed and reinforced the message to reassure the students that no harm was intended.
She also had spoken with the inspector in charge of the Police Unit that provided the service and was also reassured that it was not their intention and have acknowledged that the message was not well delivered.
Ms Petrina noted that she is still cautiously aware of the long journey ahead to break these deeply held, misguided and ultimately dangerous notions of ‘inviting crime’.
“It’s ok to say “too bad you were careless and left your bag unattended thereby inviting crime”. But, a person in whatever state of dress/undress is NOT a thing. It is a person. And it is never ok to feel like you can help yourself to that person just because you like/don’t like they way they behave or dress,” she wrote.
“Boundaries. We must empower our kids to respect those boundaries,” she added.
AWARE also commented on the issue, saying that it is a hugely damaging narrative that we, sadly, still hear over and over again.
It also noted that 1 in 3 young people in Singapore have faced sexual violence – and messages like these do nothing for their recovery, and reinforce dangerous myths about sexual assault that prevent survivors from seeking help.
“Everybody – teachers, the media, authorities and the public – has a responsibility to call out these victim-blaming narratives,” AWARE said