NUS student Monica Baey receives AWARE award for speaking out against sexual harassment

'By asking her university to own up to its inadequate policies and procedures, Monica fostered the creation of a safer campus for all students, and galvanised other schools and institutions to follow suit.'

Matthias Ang| November 03, 12:25 AM

23-year-old undergraduate Monica Baey has received an award from the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) titled 'Woman of Courage'.

The award was given to Baey on Saturday (Nov. 2) at the organisation's annual fundraising gala, which was this year held at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Awarded for standing up for herself after experiencing sexual harassment

According to AWARE, the award was given on the basis of Baey "bravely" standing up for herself, after "an experience of sexual harassment on campus".

In mid-April this year, Baey took to Instagram with a series of stories relating her experience of being illegally filmed in the shower by fellow student Nicholas Lim at the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Eusoff Hall in November last year.

Lim was given a semester-long suspension, made to write an apology letter to Baey, and sent for counselling — measures Baey slammed as inadequate, especially because she had taken her case to the police, who ended up letting Lim go with a 12-month conditional stern warning.

AWARE noted that this led to an "intense and unexpected" uproar, which Baey persisted through, leading to what the organisation called a major shift in local attitudes towards sexual violence.

Helped to create a safer campus

This, in turn, led to NUS implementing tougher measures to create a safer environment for its students.

"By asking her university to own up to its inadequate policies and procedures, Monica fostered the creation of a safer campus for all students, and galvanised other schools and institutions to follow suit."

Not the only woman to receive an award from AWARE

Baey was not the only woman to receive an award from AWARE that night.

Two other award recipients at the gala were academic Teo You Yenn and entrepreneur Liyana Dhamirah.

Teo received the 'Woman of Insight' award while Liyana received the 'Woman of Resilience' award.

Illuminated shortcomings in Singaporean society

In the case of Teo, AWARE said her book This is What Inequality Looks Like had illuminated how gender and inequality intersects in Singapore.

It said Teo had started a discussion about "systemic shortcomings" in the country, via her immersion into the lives of low-income families, and praised her for adopting a clear, yet measured and respectful approach.

As for Liyana, AWARE stated that her journey from homelessness to a self-made entrepreneur had helped to illuminate how society can both forego an individual and pull them back up again, through a confluence of circumstances.

Liyana was also praised for embodying resilience, determination and the public spirit in her work with the homeless and lower-income families.

All three women chosen because they "made people listen"

As for why Baey, Teo and Liyana were chosen, AWARE's Executive Director Corinna Lim had this to say:

"When we reflected on the people who sparked conversation and inspired real action in Singapore this year, You Yenn, Monica and Liyana immediately stood out to us. In their own way, each of them faced substantial challenges getting their messages out into the world, but against the odds they made people listen, and Singapore is the better for it. We’re so proud for them to join our illustrious group of AWARE Award recipients.”

Top image collage via AWARE Website and Monica Baey's Instagram