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StandUp Malaysia Pushes For “Safe Spaces Act” To Make Public Space Safe For All

StandUp Malaysia Pushes For “Safe Spaces Act” To Make Public Space Safe For All

The Safe Spaces Act protects individuals, especially women, girls, and vulnerable communities against sexual and gender-based violence in public spaces.

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Following the KLIA 1 shooting incident where a woman was the target, the public is once again reminded that there’s an urgent need to make public spaces safe for everyone, especially women.

StandUp Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation, urgently calls for the Malaysian government to introduce the Safe Spaces Act. The bill is essential to address the rampant violence perpetrated against individuals, especially women, girls, and vulnerable communities in public spaces.

According to StandUp Malaysia’s statement, sexual harassment incidents in Malaysia’s public settings have become “all too common.” As highlighted in the 2021 Survey on Sexual Harassment conducted by AWAM and Cent-GPS, a significant majority of women feel unsafe when navigating public environments.

57% of women have endured verbal sexual harassment while walking in public, and a quarter of them have faced the terrifying experience of being stalked all the way home.

There’s also a gender disparity in perceptions of safety. According to a 2021 study by ThinkCity focusing on women’s safety in Downtown Kuala Lumpur, 27% of women express feeling unsafe in public spaces while only 9% of men felt the same.

The statistics show the disproportionate burden borne by women when it comes to gender-based violence in public spaces.

The same study also found that women felt unsafe taking public transport at night and would opt for e-hailing to go home. While e-hailing isn’t a totally safe option either, the women who were interviewed felt it was a far safer option.

StandUp Malaysia added that there’s a rise in femicide cases and instances of sexual harassment occurring in public spaces.

Why is the Safe Spaces Act needed?

Despite the gravity of the crimes targeting women, there is no comprehensive legal framework specially designed to protect individuals from such cases when they occur outside the confines of private spaces.

Although we have the Sexual Harassment Act 2022 (ASHA) and the introduction of Section 507A of the Penal Code to address stalking, both laws are not fully sufficient to safeguard individuals from violence in public spaces.

StandUp Malaysia believes the Safe Spaces Act can fill this critical gap and provide the necessary protection for individuals navigating public environments.

StandUp Malaysia said the Safe Spaces Act must encompass all forms of violence, irrespective of the motive behind these heinous acts.

It should unequivocally protect against sexual and gender-based violence and ensure perpetrators face stringent punishment for their crimes.

Existing provisions may offer fragmented remedies, but they fall short of providing the robust protection necessary for individuals to live free from fear and indignity in public spaces.

StandUp Malaysia

StandUp Malaysia reiterated that it’s important for our leaders to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of all citizens.

Together, let us stand against violence and create a society where every individual can walk the streets with dignity, free from the threat of harm or harassment.

StandUp Malaysia

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