A women’s group hopes that the “Sexual Harassment Bill” will not only provide adequate protection for women and girls, but also for boys, men and transgender. According to a report by FMT.
“It has to be clear that the bill is not just to protect women.” Betty Yeoh, co-founder of the National Action Association, told FMT.
“It is not a bill to protect one particular group of people, but a bill to protect anyone from sexual harassment. That has to come across to the MPs.”
She said that many people still believe that only women have experienced sexual harassment. This is due to insufficient research on male harassment.
FMT talk to a man who said he has sexually harassed by a trainee consultant when he was 13.
“When most of the counsellors had left the room, he asked me to look at something that he said would make me relaxed and calm.”
“I expected him to show something like a video of religious sermons or a motivational talk.”
However, he saw pornographic videos.
He said: “The video was extremely indecent.”
“Shocked, I ran away after a few seconds.”
He added that when he raised this issue with school administrators, they treated it as a “small issue.”
“Male sexual harassment is often overlooked and some men sometimes take it as a joke.” He added that this insult makes it difficult for victims to speak out.
He called for various forms of support for victims. He suggested that a special emergency hotline set up to answer distress calls.
In sports, men seem to be more vulnerable to sexual harassment than women. A 2017 survey by Kolej Universiti Poly-Tech Mara found that 19% of men. 11% of women have experienced sexual harassment in sports activities.
Of the 422 athletes surveyed, half of them represented the country in international competitions. 15.9% of them were victims of sexual harassment.
Yeoh said she hopes that the 20-year-old bill will be submitted to Dewan Rakyat next month.
She said that prior to 2018, the government lacked interest in promoting the bill. It had repeatedly referred the matter to different government departments for many years.
It is close to the April table, but the Covid-19 lockdown has caused the delay.
Daniella Zulkifili, a former member of the Association of Women Lawyers. She said that although there are already laws concerning sexual harassment, some gaps still need to be addressed.
She said that civil cases involving sexual harassment require victims to hire a lawyer and prepare court documents. It is expensive and time-consuming.
For criminal cases, the required standard of proof is a very high standard “beyond reasonable doubt”. This led to many police reports that not take action.
She said: “If someone touches you or says something to you, it would be difficult to provide physical proof unless the act was recorded or documented.”
“A lot of sexual harassment incidents happen in this kind of situation.”
She said that the definition of sexual harassment in the new bill must be improved to provide broader protection for victims or potential victims, regardless of their relationship with the offender.
“We propose for a tribunal to be established to deal with complaints swiftly and privately, where you don’t need legal representation, where the standard of proof is on balance of probabilities and where complainants are given remedy options.”
“And We understand that the government is planning to table it at the end of the year. We look forward to assisting it and seeing this bill passed.”