Nazariah, on the Collaborative Change Agent Programme

Beyond Community, Women

“I was introduced to the Collaborative Change Agent programme through Sobi, a Beyond community worker, who knocked on my door one day and talked about the need to raise awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence in the neighbourhood. I was not aware of the issue before or that it was so serious. I felt worried and sorry for the youths that were affected. It is a traumatising experience. Victims can develop trust issues and it can be hard to move forward.  
 
When I went door knocking to talk to my neighbours about this issue, they were as surprised as I had been. All this while we thought the youths were ok. We’ve seen their Tik Toks and sometimes we see boys and girls hanging out together, but it all seemed fine and normal. So, when we heard there was an ongoing police case, that some girls from the rental blocks were molested, and that some youths even get molested by their own friends, of course we were very alarmed.  
 
Parents have a strong part in educating boys, it’s not just about telling girls how to behave or what to wear, it’s also about the boys. I have 6 children, 5 of whom are boys. I have learned more about the issue and educated my kids about it. I tell my boys to respect girls and not to touch them without permission. There’s a limit to how much we can control our kids or the information they receive about sex. They learn about it in school, they learn about it outside of school, but they need to know there are limits and there are consequences when you cross these limits.  
 
Coming up with the community pledge and getting signatures for it was relatively easy since it’s an issue of serious concern. However, there were a few older aunties and uncles we had to take a little more time explaining to because they would initially say “it’s not my son what” or “my son won’t get into trouble”. We would then explain that it’s not just about your child, it’s also about helping to look out for your neighbour’s children, and when your neighbours get to know you better, they will help to look out for your children too. It’s a win-win situation. 
 
I think we need to move even further than signing the pledge. I hope we can get more mothers to be actively involved in the programme and contribute their opinions too, the more the better, especially in discussing how we can address this issue as parents. I also think it’s important to try and build rapport with the children and youth so they can trust us. Most of the mothers in this project don the hijab, and the youths may assume we are just “mak cik tudung” that are strict and not as easy to talk to as a “cool” mum. We need to talk and get to know each other. It won’t matter if I sign the pledge if they’re still afraid to approach me outside. We need to build rapport so they know they can come to us when they are in trouble.”

– Nazariah, Community Enabler

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