PETALING JAYA: Several sections in the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 (Act 840) have come into force effective Tuesday (March 28).
The gradual enforcement by the Women, Family and Community Ministry (KPWKM) covers Section 1 – Simple Titles and Commencement; (ii) Section 2 – Interpretation; (iii) Section 24 – Administrator; (iv) Section 25 – Functions and powers of the administrator; and (v) Section 26 – Power to make regulations.
“The enforcement of Act 840 involves the definition of sexual harassment, elements of awareness and prevention of sexual harassment in society while taking into account the importance of education and improvement of people's understanding as well as awareness on sexual harassment issues prior to it coming into force.
“When the understanding and awareness of sexual harassment and its effects on victims can be improved among the community, it directly provides a safer environment.
“This will help people in terms of economic, social and political empowerment while ensuring that they are not marginalised in the current national development,” the ministry said in a statement.
The passing of Act 840 is a reflection of the government’s concern and serious commitment in addressing and eliminating gender-based discrimination, especially sexual harassment, the ministry added.
Structural reform through the enactment of this new Act is in line with the strategy of enhancing legal protection and increasing awareness and intervention programmes on women's rights under the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025.
This is in addition to the country's international commitments including the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw).
On July 20, 2022, the Act was passed in the Dewan Rakyat and subsequently at the Dewan Negara on Aug 11, 2022.
It was gazetted as a new Act on Oct 18, 2022, after receiving consent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.