PUTRAJAYA: The Government cannot gauge how serious sexual harassment is in the civil service as many victims and witnesses of such acts are too shy to come forward, said Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman.
Some were also reluctant to do so because they felt intimidated by the perpetrator, especially if the person held a higher position than them, he said.
Relating one sexual harassment allegation in the service that came to his attention, Samsudin said the alleged perpetrator, who was a head of department, was found not guilty after an inquiry was held.
The claim made by the alleged victim involved physical contact between her and her head of department.
Claims of sexual harassment in the civil service must be handled very carefully and sensitively.
We need to specify clearly what constitutes sexual harassment so that civil servants will know their rights, he told reporters after presenting prizes to winners of the Putrajaya fishing competition held in conjunction with the National Day celebrations here yesterday.
The Public Services Department on Friday issued a circular on sexual harassment guidelines for the civil service which listed lewd signs, dirty jokes, hugging or touching colleagues without their consent as sexual harassment.
Samsudin said that under the new guidelines, actions taken to tackle such cases would be two-prong to punish the perpetrator and to counsel the victims.
We have also provided many channels for victims to lodge complaints where their identities would not be revealed.
The new guidelines also provided for comprehensive investigations to be carried out when a complaint has been lodged to protect the rights of both the victim and the person alleged to have committed the offence.
This is important because we dont want this code of conduct to be abused by some to victimise others, he added.
Kantho Pijo won the first prize in the fishing competition.
He picked up RM3,000 and a hamper.
The second and third prizes went to Mohamad Shafazan Mohamad Nor and Mohd Said.
Did you find this article insightful?