Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of sexual violence faced by women. It means any unwelcome sexual behaviour, and includes unwanted touching, lewd remarks, displaying pornographic pictures, blackmail for sexual favours, and much more.
Women are sexually harassed in the streets, in public transport, and, very often, at the workplace. Hence, a lot of the information on this website is geared towards addressing sexual harassment at the workplace.
Sadly, the reality is that very few women report being sexually harassed as they feel that little action can be taken against the harassers or the workplace. Many women also fear they may lose their jobs.
Currently there is no sexual harassment law. Victims of sexual harassment find it difficult to seek appropriate recourse against the harassers. Yet, sexual harassment can no longer be ignored as more and more women join the workforce and participate actively in the economy of the country. Recognising that sexual harassment is a widespread problem, the Ministry of Human Resources launched the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (The Code) (140KB Word) in 1999. The Code is not law. Adopting the Code is voluntary for employers. As of March 2001, only 1.12% of companies in Malaysia had adopted it. The Code gives guidelines for internal inquiry only. It is hardly an effective measure against the problem.
Since year 2000, WCC has been spearheading the Joint Action Group against Violence Against Women (JAG) to campaign for a sexual harassment law for Malaysia.
Since 2005, the government has proposed several amendments to existing labour laws to combat sexual harassment. JAG responded to these proposals via its 2005 Memorandum and letters to the press, emphasising the limitations of the Employment Act and the need for separate legislation. While the government’s efforts at legislative reform are commendable, it does not help that they are made in such a piecemeal manner. Specific legislation providing a clear definition of sexual harassment, comprehensive coverage for all levels of persons at the workplace, and an independent dispute resolution mechanism are clearly necessary.
Support JAG’s campaign for our Proposed Sexual Harassment Bill submitted to the government in 2001! Visit our Legal Reform pages for more information on our Memorandums and other advocacy efforts for this campaign, including JAG’s Proposed Sexual Harassment Bill.