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Deputy education minister: Alleged victim-shaming in 'school textbook' to be reviewed

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Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said that necessary action will be taken to correct the allegedly victim-shaming lesson in a purported Standard Three textbook.

This comes after one Azrul Mohd Khalib uploaded a picture of a page from the book in question, which teaches young girls the importance of "protecting the modesty of their sexual organs.”

Teo, in a Facebook post, assured that a follow-up will be made to correct the matter.

“It is not right to blame the victims. A follow-up will be done as soon as possible to fix this,” she wrote in the post, which was accompanied by a photo of the said textbook page.

“Together, let’s educate our children the right way,” she added.

 The page, titled "Saving modesty," revolves around a fictional character of a young girl called Amira.

In it, Amira's parents are said to be constantly advising her on the need to protect the modesty of her sexual parts by dressing modestly, closing the room door when changing clothes, and avoiding quiet places when she is alone.

Below that illustration, the page lists the consequences should Amira fail to protect her modesty.

It claimed that she would be ashamed of herself and experience emotional disturbances, be shunned by her friends and bring shame to her family's honour.

In his accompanying tweet, Azrul claimed that the picture was taken from a Standard Three school textbook.

"Victim-blaming is not acceptable. Not only does this put the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment solely on the shoulders of a girl, it also implies that she had it coming!

"Shaming kids is not acceptable," he tweeted.

Deputy Women, Community and Family Development Minister Hannah Yeoh responded to the tweet, saying: "In agreement with @azrulmohdkhalid. This needs to be reviewed."

At the time of writing, Azrul's post was retweeted 946 times and received 488 likes.

Many netizens also responded to both Azrul's and Yeoh's tweets, questioning whether the book contained lessons for young boys on respecting women's modesty in return.

Others, such as a Twitter user who goes by the handle @geminiesque, protested the seeming victim-shaming, saying Standard Three pupils should instead be taught acceptable and non-acceptable forms of touching, and reporting it.

"The book lists 'not liked by friends' and 'family's honour tarnished' as a consequence... This will only make children reluctant to report any sexual abuse that they experience.

"We should (instead) show the consequences to those who take advantage (of young children).

"To reduce the number of victims of sexual attacks, reduce the number of attackers," @geminiesque posted in a series of tweets.

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