Sexual Harassment Bill offers alternative to courts and is victim-focused, says Women’s Ministry

Chua said the court system introduced by the bill has the advantage of being simpler, cheaper and faster for victims of sexual harassment. — Photo by Ahmad Zamzahuri

By Zarah Morden

Monday, July 25, 2022 3:12 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 – The Sexual Harassment Bill will be part of civil law, not criminal law, as it provides an alternative to the courts, the Deputy Secretary General (Strategic) of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) today.

At a press conference, Chua Choon Hwa said the objectives of the bill include raising awareness about sexual harassment, creating safe environments, sending a strong message about the government’s concerns about issue, the fulfillment of Malaysia’s international commitments, in particular as a signatory to the Cedaw Treaty, and addressing the problem of under-reporting.

“This bill provides an alternative victim-centric forum,” Chua said, explaining that the system will be fine-tuned once it is in place, as it will be tested in the Klang Valley once the bill is passed. will become law and could be extended to mobile or online avenues if all goes well.

The court system introduced by the bill has the advantage of being simpler, cheaper and faster for victims of sexual harassment, he said.

This closed court system will be cheaper to administer than the court system and does not require the victim to be represented by a lawyer, which will reduce the financial burden on the victim, he explained.

It’s easier for victims because the closed court system won’t publicize the proceedings and the civil system requires a lower burden of proof on a balance of probabilities rather than having to prove the allegations in court. beyond a reasonable doubt, he said.

He added that it will also be faster than the court system as compensation will be awarded to the victim within 60 days.

“The public must understand that sexual harassment should not be normalized,” said Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, who was also present.

She explained that the bill does not cover public spaces because the identity of the perpetrator is required to file a complaint in court.

She also said that it should not be forgotten that men can also be victims and that men often feel more shame for having been sexually harassed.

The Sexual Harassment Bill was tabled in 2018 after 30 years in the making and was approved by a block vote on July 20.

The bill has already been criticized by the Anti-Sexual Harassment Advocacy Group, which said that enforcing organizational duties to combat sexual harassment, protections against harassing behavior that create a hostile environment and protections against victimization for those seeking redress were not addressed. .

The group, which includes the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), Engender Consultancy and Young Women Making Change, said it hopes the bill will not be misused against rights from marginalized groups, to blame the victims and the moral police. , or violate bodily autonomy and freedom of expression.

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