SINGAPORE: National University of Singapore (NUS) student Monica Baey on Wednesday (May 1) took to social media to address critics and to speak out against the online harassment of a fellow student who had filmed her in the shower at a university hostel.
Her Instagram post, titled "closure", came a week-and-half after the undergraduate drew attention to NUS’ handling of sexual misconduct cases.
She had expressed unhappiness over the punishment meted out to the perpetrator, who was given a 12-month conditional warning from police and was suspended from school for a semester. Amid public backlash, the education minister described the penalties as “manifestly inadequate”.
"This week has been incredibly tiring, yet probably the most fulfilling week of my life," said Ms Baey in her post on Wednesday.
"In one-and-a-half weeks, NUS has reached out to me to acknowledge that the current disciplinary system dealing with sexual misconduct cases in the university is inadequate, organised a town hall to hear the concerns of the student body (although there is so, so much room for improvement) and are now in the midst of forming a review committee with female and student representation to make changes to the existing system."
"I can't believe it. Change has finally come," she added.
She also addressed those who disagreed with her actions, saying that "everyone is entitled to their own opinion".
"To address those who are saying that my perpetrator is now a victim, all I will say in response to that is I do genuinely hope that he is receiving the proper support he needs to rehabilitate, and that the unnecessary online harassment towards him and his loved ones will stop," she said.
"He does not deserve to be bullied online by trolls, and he definitely does not deserve to have his punishment (meted) out by anyone on the Internet - including me."
She reiterated her view that the perpetrator's punishment was too lenient, but said that whether the case would be re-opened was up to the university's review committee.
"Petitions or online opinions will not decide his punishment, and therefore I think it is time to step away from the discussion of what people think should be done to him, and step into the discussion of how we can improve our current society," she said.
"THE PARANOIA NEVER GOES AWAY"
Ms Baey also voiced solidarity for other victims of voyeurism, stressing that the effects of such incidents are serious.
Said the undergraduate: "The paranoia never goes away. This nagging feeling at the back of your mind, telling you that you are never safe, that even in the comforts of your own home there might be a small chance a man is standing by the window, or that a pinhole camera has been installed somewhere ... I get so frustrated that I break down in the shower sometimes because I'm so tired of worrying."
Documents from the university's student portal uploaded on Facebook revealed that the NUS' Board of Discipline heard at least 26 cases of sexual misconduct during the three academic years.
Several of the cases involved students taking photos and videos of male and female students in the shower and upskirt videos. In other incidents, offenders touched the thighs or buttocks of female students.
NUS president Tan Eng Chye has apologised over the way Ms Baey’s case was handled, saying last week in a letter to alumni that the university “fell short”.
He said the university "does not condone nor tolerate any form of sexual misconduct" on its campuses, and that it will take a "hard stand on unacceptable behaviour" to keep its students safe.