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Long Anticipated Sexual Harassment Bill To Be Tabled In Parliament In 2020

Long Anticipated Sexual Harassment Bill To Be Tabled In Parliament In 2020

Akmal Hakim

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With the recent cultural shift against toxic masculinity and as more and more Malaysian women move to reveal their sexual harassment horror stories and experiences online, Malaysia is set to introduce a new Sexual Harassment Bill to be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat by the end of the year.

According to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM), the Sexual Harassment Bill, which was first pushed forward by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, will provide thorough definitions on what counts as sexual harassment, improve the nation’s systems to allow for sexual harassment victims to come forward and effectively report their cases, as well reforming punishment and penalties for sexual assaulters and predators.

In legal terms, Malaysian law does not specifically define sexual assault or violence but are instead spread out into separate legal documents such as the Penal Code, Sexual Offences Against Children Act and the Employment Act.

Sexual harassment and violence as defined by Malaysian laws.
(Women’s Aid Organisation)

KPWKM minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun explained that part of the challenge of implementing the legislation would be Malaysia’s dividing legal systems where laws tend to differ and handle differently at the federal and state level, just like how the previous proposal to ban child marriages in the country was scratched when seven states (Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perlis, Sarawak, and Terengganu) had opposed the idea.

Meanwhile, KPWKM also aims to table a bill to recognise social work as a true profession.

The bill is set to establish Malaysia’s very own Social Work Profession Council and have social workers registered and operating according to standards.

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