Survey finds sexual harassment largely unreported

PETALING JAYA: Over a third of Malaysian women, or 36%, have experienced sexual harassment, compared to one in six men.

The latest survey by YouGov Omnibus found that of those who have faced sexual harassment, only half or 53% reported or told someone of the incident.

Women were more likely to report an incident than men with 57% of women saying so compared to only 54% of men.

Among those who have reported the incident, most, or 54%, told a friend or family (51%) rather than the police (15%).

The survey, which polled 1, 002 Malaysians, found that the main reason sexual harassment went unreported was due to embarrassment (54%), feeling that no one would do anything about the problem (38%) and fear of repercussion (26%).

The most experienced form of sexual harassment was sexual assault at 59% followed by verbal comments of a sexual nature at 48%, flashing at 29% and unwanted sexualised photography or videography at 20%.

To avoid being sexually harassed, seven in 10 (70%) Malaysian women regularly took precautions, compared to four in 10 men.

The survey also found that the most common ways people took precautions were by avoiding certain areas (70%), avoiding or minimising interaction with strangers (62%) and avoiding being alone (60%).

Men were more likely to learn self-defence skills than women (39% versus 31%), and women were more likely to dress a certain way than men (56% versus 33%) to prevent sexual harassment.

Overall, over a quarter (27%) of Malaysians were aware of the #MeToo movement while three in five (61%) thought the movement made people more open to talking about sexual harassment.

One in 10 (10%) believed it made no difference and one in eight (12%) thought it made people less open. The remaining two in 10 (18%) were undecided.

YouGov Omnibus Asia-Pacific chief Jake Gammon said that due to a lack of official statistics surrounding sexual harassment in Malaysia, they wanted to discover how prevalent the issue was.

“What is surprising is the number of sexual harassment cases that go unreported, and the reasons behind it.

“It’ll be interesting to see if these figures change in an age of #MeToo, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

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