Bill to be drawn up after impact study

THE Sexual Harassment Bill will only be drawn up once an impact study concludes at the end of January.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the study, which would take three months, would take into account public feedback.

“We will look into how extensive the impact is of these sexual harassment cases.

“Because based on the reports that we received, there are many more cases where the victims may have not filed a complaint.

“So, the impact study is very important for us to draft an effective law,” she told reporters.

The ministry, she said, aims to conclude the impact study by Jan 31 before scrutinising the results and starting on the drafting of the Bill.

To a question on when the Bill was expected to be tabled in Parliament, Yeoh said it would be “too rushed” for the next meeting in March.

“But we feel that this is a case of urgency and that’s why we ask for the impact study to be shortened to only three months,” she said.

Yeoh said there was a need for a specific law on sexual harassment as the cases were not always easy to prove.

“Sexual harassment can be not only physical but also verbal and is subjective,” she said.

Based on Public Service Department statistics, there were 47 sexual harassment cases in the public sector and 64 in the private sector between 2015 and 2017.

On the “sex predator” case revealed by The Star in July, Yeoh said she believed that the Health Ministry would conclude its report and take action based on this.

“My ministry has representatives in this case and we will scrutinise the action taken to ensure that the welfare of victims are taken care of,” she said.

Several lawmakers have called on the government to speed up the drafting of the Bill following the report which saw allegations by female housemen that they were sexually harassed by the head of an orthopaedics department at a hospital in the Klang Valley.

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