A Malaysian student has been hit with a RM1 million (~S$320,000) defamation lawsuit after alleging that her teacher made a joke about rape in class.
Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, 17, first made the claims in a TikTok video uploaded onto her account in April 2021.
Claimed he joked about rape
In the video, Ain said that her male physical education teacher was conducting a lesson on sexual harassment.
"He was making a couple of jokes, but it was normal at first," she said.
However, the jokes escalated and started to become inappropriate.
As the class was discussing about laws protecting minors from sexual harassment, Ain claimed that her teacher said: "If you want to rape someone, don't rape those under 18. Rape those who are above 18."
According to Ain, the girls in the class went quiet, but the boys were laughing.
Received defamation lawsuit
On Aug. 4, 2021, Ain tweeted that she had received a letter of demand alleging defamation.
"In the letter, I was given seven days to meet all these claims, including to pay RM1,000,000 in compensation," she said.
hi. harini ain tiba-tiba terima surat tuntutan atas "pernyataan-pernyataan fitnah"— ain #MakeSchoolASaferPlace (@ainhsaifulnizam) August 4, 2021
dlm surat ni ain diberi 7 hari untuk untuk semua tuntutan ni, antaranya untuk membayar RM1,000,000 dalam gantirugi.
all i ask is semua doakan urusan ain dipermudahkan :') #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
In a separate tweet, Ain's father, Saiful Nizam Abdul Wahab, confirmed that his family had received the letter.
"Following our lawyer's advice, we will not comment further on this case for now," he added.
Kami menerima surat tuntutan daripada Tetuan Rasshidi Ema & Yung. Atas nasihat peguam, kami tidak akan memberikan sebarang komen setakat ini.— Saiful Nizam (@saifulnizam769) August 4, 2021
Kami akan mendapatkan nasihat daripada peguam tentang hak kami & tindakan selanjutnya.#SaifulNizam #AinHusniza #MakeSchoolASaferPlace pic.twitter.com/Jer7QRs9eO
According to the Malay Mail, Ain's father Saiful said that it was the teacher who issued the legal letter.
Police report made against her
The next day, Ain revealed that she was called in to provide a police statement for a report lodged by the alleged teacher.
tomorrow i will be going to IPD Sungai Buloh at 5pm with my father because of a report being made by the alleged teacher. wish me luck lol— ain #MakeSchoolASaferPlace (@ainhsaifulnizam) August 5, 2021
However, on the same day, the Sungai Buloh police said that they have completed investigations into the case and have classified it as "No Further Action", according to New Straits Times.
Sparked national debate on sex education and misogyny
Ain's TikTok video went viral overnight, and has garnered nearly two million views as of the time of writing. It sparked a highly divided national debate on sex education and misogyny in Malaysia.
While other female students came forward to share similar experiences and show their support, a number of people criticised Ain for her actions.
According to Free Malaysia Today (FMT), Ain received a rape threat from a male classmate, who has since apologised.
The New Straits Times reported that Ain lodged police reports against both the classmate who made the rape threat and the teacher himself. The case against the teacher is apparently still under investigation.
In May 2021, the Malaysian Education Ministry announced that the teacher involved in the alleged incident would be transferred to the Selangor Education Department, according to Malay Mail.
FMT also reported that the principal of Ain's school allegedly uploaded a Facebook post calling her "anak setan pakai tudung", which translates to "child of the devil wearing a hijab".
Ain later launched the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace online campaign, making the hashtag trend on social media.
She also attracted the attention of international media outlets with her views.
Top images from Ain's TikTok & Twitter accounts.