Women's NGO offers gender-sensitive training to MoH staff after sexual harassment article gaffe

Awam called for the ministry to be more responsible and gender-sensitive when disseminating information on their platforms. — Pexels pic
Awam called for the ministry to be more responsible and gender-sensitive when disseminating information on their platforms. — Pexels pic

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PETALING JAYA, April 19 — The All Women’s Action Society (Awam) has called on Health Ministry staff to undergo gender-sensitive training after a series of sexual harassment articles on the MyHealth portal sparked anger online.

The now-deleted articles cited “physical attractiveness”, a “charming personality”, and a “sexy body shape” as factors that “invite” unwanted sexual attention from men.

The author also cited dubious sources to back up the article, including an unknown Blogspot address and a Google search.

In a statement released last Friday, Awam said the Health Ministry needs to uphold its promise of providing evidence-based information and not play into a culture of victim-blaming.

“By misinforming the public that survivor-related characteristics such as the style of dress and interactions are the causes of sexual harassment, the Health Ministry is thus inaccurately putting sole responsibility on the survivor for being sexually harassed.

“(This legitimises) a culture of victim-blaming that can lead to unjustifiably devastating mental health consequences for the survivor. 

“This narrative only further normalises sexual harassment, while the root causes of power imbalance and patriarchal beliefs surrounding men’s superiority over women are swept under the rug,” said Awam.

The women’s rights organisation added that it would be happy to provide gender-sensitive training to the Health Ministry as it already does so for other government departments, namely the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

Following the uproar over the sexual harassment post last week, other questionable articles on the MyHealth portal have also come under scrutiny.

Two articles were found to contain anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) sentiments, with the author using a slur to refer to transgender people.

The MyHealth portal has been inaccessible since Friday with web users being greeted with a “Sorry, we’re doing some work on the site” message on its homepage.

Malay Mail has reached out to the ministry for comments about the portal’s status.

Dr Noor Hisham previously said that the sexual harassment article merely reflected the author’s personal views and not that of the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba also told online portal The Vibes that the article was posted without the approval of “higher authorities” in the ministry.

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