Focus View
Stop passing the buck on Sexual Harassment Act
FocusM team | 02 Feb 2018 00:30
Civil society groups are losing their patience with the way the authorities are managing certain contentious issues. One good example is the government’s handling of the issue of sexual harassment.

The Association of Women Lawyers says sexual harassment is not taken seriously enough. Its president Tham Hui Ying says almost 20 years has elapsed since the Human Resources Ministry launched the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace.

This obscure code has long been forgotten by many in the corporate sector. Many companies and workers are not even aware of its existence. Civil society groups are now calling for a comprehensive Sexual Harassment Act to be enacted to protect Malaysians, especially those in the workplace. The association says this code of practice is based on voluntary adoption, which has undoubtedly resulted in low implementation rates.

While the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has acknowledged the shortfall of legislation to overcome sexual harassment, little has been done to eradicate this scourge.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who is the minister in charge of law, admits the government is aware of the sexual harassment issue.

Yet, she says it is up to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to decide whether it wants to enact a new Act to tackle the problem.

Given that the problem has been simmering for many years, it is time the authorities come up with legislation to protect the people from any forms of sexual harassment sooner rather than later.