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The Rakyat Needs A Survivor-Centric Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

Press Statement
For Immediate Release 

The Rakyat Needs A Survivor-Centric Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

The Anti-Sexual Harassment (SH) Bill was tabled in Parliament for its first reading today, with its second reading expected to take place anytime soon. 

The Rakyat has already waited for more than 20 years for the Bill. In light of current legislative gaps and widespread prevalence of sexual harassment online, in public spaces and organisations (including educational institutions), the Rakyat needs well thought through, comprehensive survivor-centric legislation.  The Bill that has been currently proposed fails to meet these standards and simply provides for the setting up of a Tribunal to deal with sexual harassment. 

For the Bill to be survivor-centric, three components have to be included.

  • A comprehensive sexual harassment definition, which covers sexual harassment in all of its forms and contexts. This includes online sexual harassment. The definition that is suggested by the Special Project Task Force of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill (made up of women’s groups, government agencies, academicians and other civil society actors) is as thus:

“sexual harassment” means any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, in any form, including verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, against another person, which reasonably causes offence, humiliation, threat to the person’s well-being or creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment.”

  • A tribunal to receive and investigate sexual harassment complaints in a manner that not only is fast and affordable, but also protects survivors’ privacy, provides protection against victimisation and addresses survivors’  needs via provision of a range of remedies (including compensation, rehabilitation for and apology from perpetrators)
  • Explicitly-mandated commitment by organisations (including educational institutions) in the public and private sector to prevent and address cases of sexual harassment, as well as create organizational awareness about sexual harassment via anti-sexual harassment policies, trainings and effective redress mechanisms. 

Women’s groups first proposed a draft bill in 2001. Since that time there have been numerous meetings with various Ministries, government agencies and the Attorney General’s Chambers  to educate, inform and negotiate the creation of SH legislation that puts the needs of the survivor first. 

Key concerns are not reflected in the Bill as it stands. Most glaringly, the Bill does not include organisational duties to address sexual harassment.

When the Bill comes up for debate in the second reading, we urge MPs to  look out for the above components and raise questions as to the utility, effectiveness and workability of the provisions in the draft legislation as it stands. Such inclusions are needed for Sexual Harassment laws to be robust and effective in our country, thus the above are non-negotiable. Without the aforementioned components in the draft legislation, the Bill should not be passed and instead should be amended accordingly.

Endorsed Organisations

Joint Action Group for Gender Equality

  1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  2. Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers)
  3. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  5. KRYSS Network
  6. Perak Women for Women Society (PWW)
  7. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  8. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  9. Sarawak Women For Women Society (SWWS)
  10. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  11. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  12. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)

Other Civil Society Organisations

  1. Architects of Diversity Malaysia
  2. Belia di Bawah Bayu
  3. Best Choice Delights Sdn Bhd
  4. Borneo Spirit
  5. Childline Foundation
  6. CRIB Foundation
  7. Demokrat Kebangsaan
  8. Demokrat UKM
  9. Demokrat UM
  10. ENGENDER Consultancy
  11. Federation of Malaysian Sri Lanka Organisations
  12. Good Shepherd Services
  13. Legal Dignity
  14. Mahasiswa Keadilan Malaysia
  15. MISI: Solidariti
  16. Monsoon Malaysia
  17. National Council of Women’s Organisations Malaysia (NCWO)
  18. Nokobu Tech & Resources Sdn Bhd
  19. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  20. Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS)
  21. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
  22. Persatuan Untuk Anak Kita ( Puak Payong)
  23. Persatuan Wanita BCCM BM
  24. Persatuan Wanita Mesapol
  25. Pertubuhan Generas Aspirasi Pemimpin Wanita Malaysia (GAP.MY)
  26. POWER  (Pergerakan Orang Wanita. Empowerment and Revolution)
  27. Protect and Save the Children
  28. Reproductive Health Association of Kelantan ( ReHAK)
  29. Sabah Action Body Advocating Rights (SABAR)
  30. Sabah Human Rights Centre
  31. Sabah Next Generation (SNG)
  32. Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS)
  33. Sekretariat #KitaSelamat
  34. SFSG
  35. Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All Sabah (SERATA)
  36. Soroptimist International Club of Petaling Jaya SIPJ
  37. Soroptimist International Kota Kinabalu
  38. SPOT Community Project
  39. The Talisman Project
  40. Undi Sabah
  43. Voice of the Children
  44. Wanita Inspirasi Sabah (WISH)
  45. X Ed Malaysia
  46. Youth For The Future

Endorsed Individuals

  1. Ain Husniza #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
  2. Andy @ chia chee shiong
  3. Anne Lasimbang
  4. Benreza Hezery Uzair
  5. Celeste Chung
  6. Chaw Pei See
  7. Chin Poh Choo
  8. Claudia Lasimbang
  9. Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Consultant Paediatrician
  10. Dayang Aishah binti K. Rakhbir SIngh
  11. Dinie Fadil
  12. Dr Henry Chok
  13. Fanny Philip
  14. Fazar Arif
  16. Ho Yock Lin (Social Activist)
  17. Jacqueline Lingham
  18. Jenifer Lasimbang
  19.  Keith Shana Dawson
  20. Maini Gompisan
  21. Marathamuthu Suppanainar
  22. Marina Mahathir
  23. Megan Steven (NGI)
  24. Michelle de la Harpe-Germani
  25. Mohina Binti Sidom@ Mohina Ronnie Sidom (AMT UPKO Malaysia)
  26. Noor Hayaty Binti Mustapha
  27. Roddy Teo
  28. Rowindy Lawrence @ Belle
  29. Saiful Nizam #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
  30. Siti Aishah Hassan Hasri
  31. Sivakumar Kumaresan
  32. Syed Azmi Alhabshi
  33. Tamara Mae Kinsuan
  34. Wong Chow Shang

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