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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Opposition MPs Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Hannah Yeoh today urged the government to expedite tabling the Sexual Harassment Bill in light of a recent sexual harassment incident involving a police officer.
In a joint statement, Dr Wan Azizah and Yeoh said the Sexual Harassment Bill has been long-delayed and should be tabled and passed as soon as possible in the coming Parliament session to ensure women can feel safe and protected.
“We want this incident to be taken seriously and investigated immediately by the authorities especially the police as this incident involved a police officer,” they said.
As the former women, family and community development minister and deputy minister respectively Dr Wan Azizah and Yeoh said the government should make available more initiatives and training sessions on gender sensitivity for civil servants from time to time to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.
“We regret that the sexual harassment incident happened to a woman recently at a roadblock near Jalan Duta, and that the person behind this is a police personnel who is supposed to be responsible for the safety of the public, what more women.
“Women are supposed to be protected and respected by all.
“They should be treated as mothers, sisters or as a child of their own,” the MPs said.
Dr Wan Azizah and Yeoh said sexual harassment in the form of vulgar words alone is enough to cause discomfort, anger and fear, and could affect a person’s state of mind.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Saiful Azly Kamaruddin in a statement yesterday said the department had opened an investigation paper based on the woman’s claim, which went viral yesterday.
The woman in question had on Twitter claimed that she was pulled over at a roadblock along Jalan Duta and asked by the police officer to expose her breasts, and threatened to issue a summons if the complainant refused.
The victim was also asked by the police officer to provide her phone number, had her identity verified before being allowed to leave.
Meanwhile, Batu Kawan MP and International Secretary for DAP Women Kasthuri Patto said over the past two months there have been horrifying incidences involving violations against children and women reported in Malaysia.
She gave examples including the case of a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped in a police lockup in Sarawak, a seven-year-old boy who was abused and died at the hands of his abusers, and of late, a barrage of sexual harassment incidences involving law enforcement officers preying on female drivers.
“Malaysians deserve a women, family and community development minister who can be the voice of the voiceless to set straight policies, guidelines and laws that protects and promotes social justice for all and not just a pretty face.
“Where is your voice Rina Harun (Datuk Seri Rina Harun)?” she said.
Kasthuri also questioned the minister’s lack of interest in condemning these critical cases, apart from a friendly reminder to contact Talian Kasih’s hotline if in need of help.
“During last December’s Parliament sitting, Rina sarcastically told me ‘that she needs MPs like me to remind her to do her duties as minister’ when I asked her about the long-overdue sexual harassment bill and when will it be tabled in Parliament.
“And I am reminding you now, Rina. You are accountable to all Malaysians and not to me alone,” she said.