Addressing harassment during the MCO


If you experience harassment during the MCO, seek help. If you feel unsafe, go to the police. Photo: 123rf

Even during a pandemic, when movement is restricted and people told to stay home, women are coming forward to report harassment. “No one is allowed to sexually harass another person, not even during this time. Know your rights. Report such incidents to the service providers, the police or call NGOs. To protect yourself, practise social distancing, ” said the All Women’s Action Society (Awam) in a statement released recently. The women’s NGO was responding to a couple of alleged harassment cases that have surfaced during the MCO, involving encounters with delivery men.

“Get (the delivery riders or drivers) to leave the food package at the gate and leave. Have an ‘S’ hook on your gate so they can hang items there. Have someone go with you when you collect items. Collect evidence if any and if you can.

“Do not be embarrassed to tell the service provider off. By putting up a brave front, you will deter perpetrators, ” said Awam in a statement.

Sexual harassment – the unwanted or unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature and may be physical, verbal, psychological or visual – can occur anywhere and can be perpetrated by anyone.

Former national rhythmic gymnast Sarina Sundara Rajah said that she was harassed by a delivery driver when she went down to the lobby of her condominium to collect a package sent by a friend through the delivery service, last Friday evening. After handing over the package, the driver started asking her inappropriate personal questions, she said.

“He asked me if I was Sarina, the gymnast. That took me by surprise and so I asked him how did he know. He said that it was on the order, which I thought was strange because I didn’t book the service. Then, instead of stopping at that, he continued to engage in conversation. He asked me if I was a wakil rakyat, if I lived alone and whether I was married. I didn’t engage with him and left the lobby. About 15 minutes later, when I was back in my unit, he called me on my mobile phone. I didn’t answer but I took a screenshot of the missed call, ” said Sarina.

Unsettled by her experience, Sarina called the delivery service to complain. The company said they would “contact the driver in question and get back” to her. At press time, the company has yet to respond.

Awam also highlighted another alleged case of

sexual harassment involving an enforcement officer at a roadblock related to the movement control order (MCO) that was brought to their attention.

“It involved the use of vulgar slang by the enforcement officer. The victim, they said, was extremely traumatised and unsure of how to make a police report, during the MCO.

“We have a huge sense of gratitude to all frontliners - health, hygiene, food aid, mental health aid,

domestic violence support, the police and army – and we have to keep in mind that frontliners are human too and will sometimes crack under pressure and react in anger or in an upsetting manner.

“However, there are limits to how people should react under duress, especially when they are

in positions of power... when they have the responsibility to ensure that their power is not abused, ” it said in the statement.

Although the delivery service in Sarina’s case has not responded, some companies have policies to protect clients. Grab Malaysia said it has a zero-tolerance policy on harassment and its code of conduct prohibits drivers and delivery partners from “contacting passengers after the trip for personal reasons”.

They are also not allowed to ask “overly personal questions or comment on anyone’s appearance”.

“Any infringement of this will be reviewed and may result in suspension or permanent removal from our platform if necessary, ” a Grab spokesperson said.

Grab claimed it has introduced a Number Masking feature which hides the customers phone numbers if they contact a driver or delivery partner via the Free Call function on the app.

“This protects and ensures the privacy of both parties’ contact details by displaying a set of random digits instead of the real phone number, ” the spokesperson said.

Users can also file a complaint via the Grab app by tapping on Account, Help Centre and then Safety. Pick “I feel threatened by the delivery partner” to file a report.

Meanwhile, head of logistics at Foodpanda Malaysia, Shubham Saran, said once the company receives a complaint regarding harassment, the relevant stakeholders will be informed.

“An internal investigation is immediately carried out on the matter. Should there be a criminal breach involved, Foodpanda will lodge a police report and cooperate fully with the authorities, ” he said in a statement.

He added that customers lodging a report are advised to include screenshots of the messages or calls they had received as well as the order number and

“Users are encouraged to lodge a report via support@foodpanda.my. Once we are informed of this, the Foodpanda team will contact the customer directly for more information before advising on the next steps, ” he said.

Shubham said all complaints regarding harassment are treated with the “highest priority” and will be addressed within 24 hours.

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