IN the wake of the Time’s Up campaign, a movement against sexual harassment that was initiated by Hollywood celebrities after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced (see? I told you there is good in watching E! News), the subject of sexual abuse has been the talk of the town.
Not that this is something new. Over the past few years local news has also been abuzz with reports of child molestation and sexual assaults, some of which have been going on for years.
We should take a moment to appreciate the many Malaysians, including journalists and ordinary people who have been tirelessly working to shed light on the matter.
Truth is, whenever I read such news, especially local ones, I feel uncomfortable. This is especially true when I’m scrolling through Facebook to see what everyone was doing over the weekend or checking out products that promise to remove all body hair with just one application (does this work? I’m asking for a friend) when suddenly, in the middle of happy vacation pictures and food flat lays, I come across news links of children being molested by their own fathers or women being gang-raped not far from town.
It is even more shocking when I see global statistics which state that three out of four rape cases are committed by someone known to the victims.
I am appalled by these incidents. I personally don’t know of anyone who has been sexually abused. But I realised that these cases seem to occur to people who have grown up in the same environment as me. That’s tough to take in.
I was born and raised in a small kampung in Kedah, a humble place where people were friendly, everyone knew everyone else and crime rates were almost non-existent. I remember walking home from school on my own every day, and never once was I approached or harassed. I had male neighbours, teachers and friends, none of whom ever put me in an uncomfortable situation.
One of the biggest privileges I’ve had that I feel I often overlook is perhaps my father. As I read about all the girls who fell victim to fathers who were sexual predators, I realised that we sometimes fail to see the subtle yet extremely important blessings in our life, such as good parents.
So many women say they have the best father anyone could ask for, and they are probably right. Having one who never abuses his authority is truly a gift.
Over the years I have come into contact with so many men — colleagues, friends, and even my plumber who could have taken advantage of me, yet it never happened. But some girls are not as lucky, as shown by news reports these days. It made me realise that in many ways, I truly am privileged.
I am the product of an all-girls boarding school so when I tell you that I have been drilled to become a feminist, that’s an understatement. I was taught that women are unstoppable when it comes to achieving great things in life. But at the same time, the men in my life have also been a catalyst for my sense of security in this mad world of ours.
We are all the products of our past, and this “past” includes the men in our lives who have shaped us to become the women we are.
Like my father who made sure I grew up in the safest home on the planet. Like my male friends whom I grew up with who never made me feel uncomfortable. Like the ones whom I loved who were nothing but respectful and kind, and never crossed any of my “red-tapes” as a woman (and they are many).
These are the men who are often under-appreciated, but in the dawn of news about some awful guy out there, perhaps you can consider this as a “love letter” to appreciate those who are good, responsible and righteous. In many ways, these are the men who encouraged me and so many other women to fly. And fly we did.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING MODERN DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING, ALL DONE OF COURSE, WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM