CIJ to Deputy IGP: Stop blaming the media. Rape threats are not a joking matter

NON-PROFIT organisation Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ) is urging the police and Home Ministry to stop targeting the media for a public statement that was made by Deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP) Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.

During a media update on 26 April 2021 that discussed the recent rape threat against a school-going teenager and related police reports lodged by her, the deputy IGP reportedly stated: “The second report is regarding what may be a joke from her classmate, which she couldn’t accept” (“mungkin gurauan rakan sedarjahnya yang beliau tidak boleh terima“).

The police issued a statement to clarify the deputy IGP’s statement, stating that it referred to aspects of the ongoing investigation. But that still does not call for the deputy IGP to describe the investigation in such a manner.

As reported, neither in the teenager’s police report nor the voice message of the threat of rape by a schoolmate of the student was it ever stated that the rape was a joke.

Therefore, speculating that it may have been a joke shifts the attention and responsibility from the real threat of rape and alludes to victim-blaming.

Following that, the police also claimed in their statement that Malaysiakini and China Press’s headlines quoting the deputy IGP were irresponsible. On top of that, on April 27, the Home Ministry, under whose purview includes the police force, said it views the “inaccurate news reports” of these portals seriously and would call up Malaysiakini and China Press to get clarification on their reports.

“It is disturbing that the Home Ministry has threatened to summon these news portals for reporting on this issue. If the authorities are of the view that they have been misquoted or misrepresented, they are entitled to clarify their statement, which the police have done,” said CIJ executive director Wathshlah G Naidu in a statement earlier today.

“The press should not be subjected to being summoned by the Government or threatened with action simply because the authorities are dissatisfied with the manner in which a report was presented,” she explained.

Wathshlah also pointed out that such action of the media being summoned by the authorities or the Government when they are portrayed in a negative light is exactly one of the biggest reasons why the country fell 18 spots on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

“It is not acceptable for the media to be targeted for reporting verbatim on the deputy IGP’s statements. The police force must not be seen to be enabling a rape culture in Malaysia and statements such as that made by the deputy IGP can easily be construed as such. Rape, including threats of rape, is a crime, and should never be treated as a possibility that it may be a joke,” she continued.

In light of the matter, CIJ hopes that such statements from the police force to be investigated, censured and the personnel to be reprimanded, regardless of hierarchy.

The centre also renew its call for the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be established.

“It will also further serve the police, home ministry and country better if all public officials attend regular gender sensitisation trainings which uphold international human rights standards,” Wathshlah concluded. – April 28, 2021

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