KUALA LUMPUR: A petition was read out in Parliament on Thursday (Dec 17), asking the House to expedite the tabling of the Sexual Harassment Bill to help victims.
Kasthuri Patto (pic) (PH-Batu Kawan) stood up and read the petition under Standing Order 19 on behalf of some 512 Malaysians who urged the House to take note on the seriousness of sexual harassment issues in the country.
Kasthuri said about one in three women and one in six men in Malaysia had been sexually harassed before.
"There are serious flaws in the current legislation to handle sexual harassment cases. Due to the weakness, victims are unable to get justice and perpetrators escape from being punished.
"The current laws are not a deterrent to sexual harassment," said Kasthuri.
She said laws and government policies need to be improved to include a clearer definition of sexual harassment so it can provide protection from visual, psychological, online, verbal and physical forms of harassment.
She also said sexual harassment cases need to be decided on a "balance of probability" instead.
"Public and private organisations must also have a monitoring mechanism and lastly, a special tribunal must be set up to make it easier for sexual harassment cases to be judged through civil procedures at a minimum cost," said Kasthuri.
She hoped that the government would table and debate the Bill in the next Parliament session to help overcome the current weakness and help victims obtain justice.
Kasthuri said so far, more than 17,500 Malaysians have signed their support for the Bill on change.org set up by the All Women's Action Society as of October this year.
The petition was also supported by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) who stood up and agreed with Kasthuri to expedite the Bill.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said he acknowledged the petition and would look into it.
"I also have a written reply from the (Women, Family and Community Development) Minister on this matter, which I will pass to the both of you.
"I will look into the petition and will reply accordingly," said Azhar.