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Table the Sexual Harassment Bill in Parliament immediately, stop delaying it!

Press Statement
16th February 2021

Amidst the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country was shocked by a viral story of an incident that happened on 12 February – where a young woman was sexually harassed by a police officer at a roadblock along Jalan Duta. This is a misuse of power by the alleged police officer and it proves further the importance of having a sexual harassment law in Malaysia.

I strongly support the statement made by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Hannah Yeoh that called for the long-delayed Sexual Harassment Bill to be tabled in Parliament soon to create a safer environment free from sexual harassment for both women and men, girls and boys in Malaysia.

According to PDRM statistics between the years of 2013 till 2017, a total of 1,218 cases of sexual harassment were reported where females largely made up the number of victims by 79% while 21% involved male victims, many of whom were children. 

This is why I believe that with the passing of the Sexual Harassment Bill, community understanding and awareness about the issue will increase as the Bill will clearly outline and define what sexual harassment is. The bill will also assist victims to seek redress by providing them with a proper channel of complaint. On that note, I urge that immediate action is taken by the authorities in cases involving sexual harassment for the victims to be able to return to their daily lives without fear of being continuously sexually harassed. 

I would also like to commend Angkatan Wanita Amanah Negara (AWAN) Soraya Salim, who urged Malaysians to stop blaming the victims through negative and derogatory comments. It is high time that society focus on applauding the courage of the brave victims who come out and tell their story. The Penang State Government as well as various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and individual figures (NGI) are always conscious of this issue and are ready to provide assistance and support to the victims. 

While there are laws and special measures to help victims of sexual harassment, if there is no political will from society, things will not change for the better. I believe that instead of pointing fingers at whom to blame, it is high time that we put an end to this culture by changing our mindset towards it.

Chong Eng
Penang State Exco (Social Development and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs)

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