KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has urged local think tank Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) today to initiate an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations involving one of its senior directors.

After several members’ decision to distance themselves from the group yesterday, the coalition of women’s rights group said appropriate steps must be taken to secure the confidentiality of the complainants and their protection against any intimidation.

“Sexual harassment robs victims of their dignity, physical and mental health, and socio-economic wellbeing.

“No one, regardless of gender and social status should be subjected to sexual harassment,” the coalition said in a statement.

Formed in 2009, IRF describes itself as a movement to empower youth and promote Muslim intellectual discourse, and has advanced local discourse involving Islam and the enforcement of Shariah laws in Malaysia through its events, talks, and commentaries.

Malay Mail is withholding the name of the director as they have declined to comment on the matter at this time. IRF has also been contacted for its response.

Yesterday, at least four members and collaborators of the think tank publicly dissociated themselves from the group so long as it is led by the alleged perpetrator, following complaints and allegations by others.

“The alleged perpetrator should be suspended from all official duties until the completion of the investigation, which must be made transparent to complainants.

“We fully acknowledge that civil society and the human rights sector is not immune to sexual harassment,” JAG said.

Malay Mail understands that the director no longer serves on the think tank’s board.

JAG also repeated its call for the Parliament to urgently pass a Sexual Harassment Bill, which Putrajaya had previously vowed to table this year.

JAG is a coalition of 14 groups which among others include the Association of Women Lawyers, All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Justice for Sisters, Women’s Aid Organisation, and Sisters in Islam (SIS).