Make sodomy a crime under sexual harassment law


  • Letters
  • Monday, 24 Sep 2018

THE government may consider putting matters relating to sodomy crime under the proposed sexual harassment law, instead of maintaining it under the Penal Code (Act 574) as is the case presently. This is due to the concern put forward by some people that such Penal Code is no longer effective in dealing with the matter in our country.

Sexual harassment is not only confined to small acts of harassment through words or minor touching, it can also involve a high level of harassment like physical sexual attack on the victim. Any act of physical sexual attack can be considered sexual harassment and this includes molestation, sodomy as well as rape.

As long as the act is sexual in nature and done without having any real consent, it can be categorised as sexual harassment. The words “real consent” here need to be further examined by the prosecutor once the sexual harassment case is brought to court.

But the question is whether the victim really has consented to the offence in the first place. Some victims might have verbally consented to the offence committed but without having any intention to.

This could happen due to the fact that the act was carried out under duress or coercion. For example, the perpetrator could be the victim’s employer, as such the victims might have no choice but to give their “insincere consent” to the act. If this happens, the person will become a victim of sexual harassment.

As such, the government can consider putting sodomy offence under the proposed sexual harassment law.

For nearly 20 years, several NGOs have been pushing for the law. The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) has been campaigning for the specific legislation of sexual harassment.

Way back in 2001, JAG submitted a draft of a sexual harassment law in the hope that the government would take concrete action towards this serious offence at the workplace.

From the Human Resources Ministry to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, consultations, meetings and discussions on the legislation of sexual harassment were held with NGOs and employers’ federations. But all this came to naught until today.

As such, it is very important for the government to take the issue more seriously and push forward with the law in order to protect the victims of such hideous crime.

However, all the existing laws have their weaknesses and limitations and can’t address the highly complex and sensitive issue of sexual harassment effectively and efficiently. Therefore, having a stand-alone law on such crime is vital to put an end to the matter.

Dr MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW

Faculty of Syariah and Law

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia

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Opinion , anti-sodomy , sexual harassment , laws

   

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