SUNGAI PETANI (Bernama): Men too have been recorded as being victims of sexual harassment at the workplace, says Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.
She said statistics from the Royal Malaysian Police from 2013 to 2017 showed that 257 men – out of the total of 1,218 cases – had reported being victims of sexual harassment.
“The rest of the victims were women; indeed, there have been sexual harassment cases involving male victims.
“In some instances, they shied away from reporting as they feared that no one would believe them.
“This was one of the obstacles that prevented them from lodging a report,” she told reporters after officially opening a seminar on “Handling Sexual Harassment at the Workplace” at the Northern Region Institute of Public Administration (Intan) here Thursday (Feb 14).
She said reports by complainants on sexual harassment should therefore not be brushed aside but be given serious attention so that investigations could be conducted.
Earlier in her speech, Yeoh said 1,187 out of the 1,218 cases of sexual harassment were still under investigation while 31 individuals had been charged under Section 509 of the Penal Code.
She believes that there are still unreported cases of sexual harassment at the workplace due to various factors such as flawed mechanisms in lodging a report or investigations against perpetrators taking a very long time.
“Meanwhile, the victim has to face the perpetrator at the workplace throughout the investigation period, which could even be more traumatic for the victim, while also facing the perception of others at the workplace with regard to the case.
“At the ministry, we are now awaiting the results of an impact study which will serve as a guideline in drawing up the Sexual Harassment Act and in improving existing regulations.
“The act will also focus on penalising those not acting on the sexual harassment report or complaint, shortening the standard operating procedure (SOP) during the investigation, and improving the mechanism to ease lodging a report for the victim,” she said.
Yeoh also noted that the Public Service Department had issued service circular No 5, Year 2018 on the “Guidelines in Handling Sexual Harassment Cases at the Workplace”, which became effective Dec 12 last year to replace service circular No 22 issued in 2005.
Besides improving on the then existing procedure, the guideline also speeded up the process of taking disciplinary action against public servants committing such transgressions. – Bernama