Hurry up and table anti-sexual harassment Bill, Dr Wan Azizah tells Women’s Ministry

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah said the ministry should by now already have in place a mechanism for victims of sexual harassment to report their cases. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah said the ministry should by now already have in place a mechanism for victims of sexual harassment to report their cases. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has urged the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) to prioritise the tabling of an anti-sexual harassment Bill, following the change of government.

In a statement today, the former women’s minister said she had raised the issue in Parliament yesterday but the response from the ministry was severely lacking in detail.

“I raised the question yesterday to the ministry regarding debating the proposed Bills for sexual harassment in order to protect the rights of the victims,” the former deputy prime minister said;

“The answer given by KPWKM did not detail the timeline for implementing these Bills especially now when it is desperately needed. The existing laws only regulate sexual harassment at the work place when instead it should include public space as well.”

Dr Wan Azizah said the Bills were supposed to be debated in Parliament in March, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had to be postponed.

She said KPWKM should by now already have in place a mechanism for victims of sexual harassment to report their cases.

“The Bills that were prepared should cover all definitions of sexual harassment as a whole and provide a more effective channel for people to report cases, as well as provide avenues for remedies and penalties and burden of proof that is appropriate and fair for all parties,” added Dr Wan Azizah.

Last month, KPWKM minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun said the ministry expects to table the Bills by year-end.

She said improvements have been made to the two Bills and they will be handed over to the Attorney General’s Chambers for perusal.

It was reported earlier this year that the proposed Sexual Harassment Bill would provide a more comprehensive definition of sexual harassment and a more effective mechanism to lodge complaints. It will also propose remedial elements and penalties.

It was also reported that the proposed Bill to recognise social work as a profession sought to establish a Malaysian Social Work Profession Council to register social workers and set social work standards.

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