‘Too many loopholes, limitations in current law’

PETALING JAYA: Existing legislation and policies on sexual harassment need to be looked into, says lawyer Ng Yih Miin.

He said the responsibility for employers to investigate sexual harassment complaints was not emphasised enough in the legislation.

Under the Employment Act, he said employers who fail to investigate are only fined a maximum RM10,000, so this might not provide a strong enough deterrent.

Amendments made in 2012 to the Act also exempted employers from investigating sexual harassment cases if they are of the opinion that the complaint was “frivolous, vexatious or is not made in good faith”, he said.

“There should be a mandatory inquiry for any sexual harassment complaint lodged by employees,” he said.

He added there was no legislation dealing with sexual harassment per se in the Penal Code, though Section 377D and 509 may be applicable.

Lawyer Datuk David Morais said while it was good that the tort (civil wrong) of sexual harassment was introduced, there were limitations.

Currently, the ingredients of sexual harassment include a “persistent and deliberate course of unreasonable and oppressive conduct, targeted at another person, which is calculated and does cause that person alarm, fear or distress”.

Morais said one limitation is that the harassment was defined as being a repeated action, when a single incident should be enough.

Another limitation has to do with determining how a victim has suffered injury, or “alarm, fear or distress”, from the sexual harassment, he said.

“The threshold for what is considered an injury in sexual harassment cases should be lowered.

“An injury to even the dignity of the victim should be the threshold.

“Costs incurred in prosecuting the action should also be fully compensated as they can be prohibitive,” he said.

Human rights lawyer Honey Tan said current legislation goes a long way to deal with the issue but the problem lies in the implementation part.

One problem may be that victims are not aware of existing legislation which tackles the issue, she said.

“The government and employers should go all out to highlight the policies and laws on sexual harassment.

“There are anti-smoking and anti-corruption campaigns, (but) where is the anti-sexual harassment campaign?

“Women should know that such a tort (on sexual harassment) exists, and take the matter to court,” she said.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Nation

Sabah Pakatan to complete MOU preliminary draft on bipartisan cooperation with GRS, says Liew
RM192mil allocated to help Risda-registered smallholders, says deputy minister
Modest preparations for Deepavali in Negri Sembilan
Melaka Polls: No political gatherings from Oct 25 to Nov 27 due to Covid-19 concerns, says KJ
Covid-19: People must comply with preventive measures to ensure Malaysia’s economic recovery success, says Lee Lam Thye
Melaka Polls: Perikatan’s election machinery is ready, can’t wait for Umno, says Azmin
Kelantan govt to table 2022 state budget on Dec 2
Cops arrest two in Johor for splashing homes with red paint for loan sharks
Cops detain four in PJ for drink-driving
Educational institutions in Johor, Terengganu to open in stages from Nov 7, says Education Ministry

Others Also Read