A Long Hard Journey to School

By See Chee How

The persistent international outcry over the alleged rape of Penan women and schoolgirls by logging company workers seems to have spurred the Sarawak government to take steps to improve the safety of Penan schoolgirls traveling to and from schools.

Deputy Chief Minister, and Chairman of the Steering Committee on Penan Affairs, Alfred Jabu, continues to dismiss allegations that Penan women and girls were sexually abused by workers from two local logging companies.

But at the same time, the state authorities have apparently bowed to international and local pressure from women and rights groups. Since early this year, transportation has been arranged to pick up Penan students from one school, before school term commences, and to return them home when the school term ends.

However, much still needs to be done. It appears that such transportation is only arranged for several Penan students studying in SMK Long Lama, but not for other schools. All students of other communities have to rely on the vehicles of logging companies, unless their families can afford the hefty costs of chartered private vehicles.

Read more at: A Long Hard Journey to School