EXISTING sexual harassment laws are inadequate, creating the need for the proposed Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill, said the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), a coalition of 14 women’s rights organisations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
In a statement, JAG said that although Malaysia has several laws relating to sexual harassment, legislation such as an Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill can help close the gap.
This can be done by, firstly, introducing adequate sexual harassment standards for all relevant sectors (including universities, public space operators, societies, companies, etc).
“Secondly, the Bill will introduce an oversight body to directly receive complaints about sexual harassment from anyone, easily and affordably.”
Currently, two laws apply to all survivors of sexual harassment under the Constitution. The first is the tort of sexual harassment. However, JAG said that while this is important, taking someone to civil court is expensive (costing thousands of ringgit), lengthy (the process can take years) and public (lack of confidentiality).
“Most survivors cannot afford this,” it said.