Sexual Harassment Bill to be tabled by year-end, says Women's Ministry

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 27 Jun 2020

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is expected to table the proposed bills on sexual harassment and recognition of social work as a profession by the end of this year.

Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun (pic) said improvements have been made to the two bills and they will be handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for its perusal.

"We will try to table both bills during this year’s Parliamentary session," she told reporters at her office at the launch of the special Penjana incentives for target groups under the ministry’s scope, namely children, single mothers, persons with disabilities and senior citizens.

It was reported earlier this year that the proposed Sexual Harassment Bill would provide a more comprehensive definition of sexual harassment and a more effective mechanism to lodge complaints. It will also propose remedial elements and penalties.

It was also reported that the proposed bill to recognise social work as a profession seeks to establish a Malaysian Social Work Profession Council to register social workers and set social work standards.

Rina also said her ministry has various policies that need to be refined. These policies include the National Child Policy and National Policy for Senior Citizens.

"The most important aspect of these policies is its implementation. In this respect, it does not only involve the ministry but also the states due to the existence of different laws at these two levels.

"The people must also understand that the laws have been created, as a whole, to benefit all,” she said.

Asked if there were any proposals for women, particularly those with young children, to continue working from home (WFH) in line with the new normal, Rina said the matter requires further discussions involving various parties.

"Right now WFH is being practised and this means working from home is something that can be done. However, to implement it (over the long term), further discussions are required because (only) some people can work from home while others have to go to the office,” she said.

Pointing to her ministry, Rina said out of its workforce of 9,000 about 5,000 from the Social Welfare Department (JKM) have to "go on the ground” to deliver aid to interior areas that lack Internet access.

Viewing the work-from-home concept practised during the movement control order (MCO) as something positive, Rina said: "Maybe we can think of a better mechanism, especially for those who have young children who need more attention.”

Expressing her gratitude to her ministry staff who have been taking care of the welfare of the needy during the Covid-19 crisis, she said the special tele-counselling service provided through the Talian Kasih helpline set up by the ministry has been offering psychological support to those affected by the MCO.

"We received over 2,000 calls related to tele-counselling during the MCO period. Some of the callers were feeling stressed as they were not used to staying at home (all the time), more so when they live in a small house with many others,” she said.

The tele-counselling helpline is manned by 538 counsellors who are registered with the Malaysian Board of Counsellors and JKM.

Talian Kasih is open to the public 24 hours, seven days a week and those in need of help can contact the hotline at 15999 or WhatsApp at 019-2615999. - Bernama

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