Shereen Ajani Abigael is currently pursuing Bachelor of Law in University Malaya. – Picture by Mohd Firdaus Abdul Lat KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 8 — Shereen Ajani Abigael has always been curious about life and is constantly looking to improve herself.
In fact, growing up the Orang Asli woman wanted to go to a school where she could meet people of other races.
But she was disappointed when she was sent to an Orang Asli primary school where she only got to mingle with her own community.
“I was surrounded with my own type of people, which made me feel isolated from the rest in other villages and urban areas,” said the 26-year-old.
She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in law at Universiti Malaya.
Shereen is part of the Temuan ethnic group from the urban neighbourhood of Desa Temuan in Damansara Perdana, Selangor.
She eventually managed to attend a “normal” secondary school, where met people from other ethnic groups.
“It was a culture shock for me to suddenly find myself in between Malays, Chinese and Indians,” she said.
But her excitement was short-lived when she became the victim of bullying in school.“I think I was vulnerable to become a victim of bullying because of my appearance as an Orang Asli.“I also didn’t have a religion, so many students started questioning me about my beliefs, ethnicity and way of life,” she said. Shereen Ajani Abigael is the fourth Orang Asli student to pursue the law programme at University Malaya. Shereen added that most of her schoolmates were in the dark about the Orang Asli community and had very little knowledge about them.“All they know was the common misconception that Orang Asli people are like African tribes living in the jungle.“I was also called various terms such as ‘sakai’ and ‘jakuns’, which are used in a discriminatory manner to describe me as someone who lives in the jungle.”Because of the discriminations and bullying, Shereen said may Orang Asli students tend to drop out of school and never continue their studies.“When I started going to school, I was with 20 other Orang Asli students but due to constant bullying, some […]