Boo Su-Lyn

Boo Su-Lyn is a feminist who loves reading fiction. She tweets at @boosulyn.

JUNE 16 — After I finished my usual jog last week, I encountered a man who had previously sexually harassed me at the same spot in the park.

This time, I took pictures of him with my phone since the police told me previously that it would be very difficult to look for him without a good description (I could only remember scarce details when he leered at me last month and said, “Where are your breasts?”).

The middle-aged man, who was carrying a hockey stick during our second encounter, refused to give me his name as I photographed him. Instead, he told me: “Next time I see you, I’ll shove this up your c***.”

I didn’t manage to take a video of him saying that, but I lodged a police report.

The police didn’t seem to take my complaint seriously though. They told me that it was a “misunderstanding” and didn’t perceive a real threat in his remarks since he was already carrying a hockey stick at the time, as opposed to specifically looking for one before making the threat.

They also pointed out that I didn’t have a video of him threatening me and said they would only arrest someone if they were sure they could charge the suspect in court.

One of the police officers told me to find a jogging partner next time and jokingly said I should get married, when I told him that I didn’t necessarily have friends or family available to jog with me.

If the police are too busy searching for snatch thieves or murderers to look into complaints of sexual harassment and verbal threats (besides hunting down Facebook users in politically-motivated cases), then perhaps we should allow citizens to arm themselves with guns for self-defence.

It may be difficult for some people to comprehend the fear that women feel when they are sexually harassed, even if it is just verbal, simply because they don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.

They don’t know what it is like to constantly be vigilant when you go out, whether it’s day or night or whether you’re alone or in a crowded train.

It’s because girls and women are told their whole lives to avoid getting raped, but boys and men are rarely taught to not sexually assault people.

If the State fails in its duty to enforce public safety, then the government should allow citizens to protect themselves.

I currently carry a stick with me during my jogs, but I would feel much safer with a gun.

Of course, ideally, the government should pour in more resources into the police force and educate them on gender-based violence. Police officers who investigate anti-government dissent or minor cases of so-called “offensive” speech involving race and religion should be reassigned to probe actual crime. Perhaps then, the police would not be so dismissive of street harassment complaints.

Malaysia does not have a gun culture like in the US, so we shouldn’t expect school shootings or gun rampages if we legalise gun ownership. Politicians and so-called VIPs should not be the only people allowed to bear arms here.

Malaysia can impose tight conditions on gun ownership, such as not allowing those with criminal records or with a history of mental illness or extremism to purchase firearms.

We have the right to feel safe on our streets and in our homes.

Women should not have to feel afraid of going out alone. We should be able to defend ourselves, instead of having to rely on men to protect us.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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