DAP Cawangan Jalan Tembikai

Press Statement: Shahrizat, Legislate Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Now – Opposition Will Support Bill If BN’s Male MPs Refuse

Posted in Uncategorized by dapjlntembikai on November 3, 2009

Originally published at Sdri. Chong Eng’s website

021109 | Kuala Lumpur

I refer to Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s statement in the press today. She told employers to take reports of sexual harassment at workplace seriously. Shahrizat also admits that many victims suffer in silence and employees are reluctant to report such cases due to fear of job termination.

This issue is not a new problem. DAP and women rights NGOs have pre-empted the lack of protection against sexual harassment at workplace and limitation of redress when such cases occur. We have been calling for the Government to legislate against sexual harassment in the past ten years but the Government refused to comply.

In 2001, a coalition of women NGOs, Joint Action Group against Violence against Women (JAG-VAW, now JAG) had submitted a memorandum with a thoroughly researched proposal for a Sexual Harassment Bill to the Human Resource Ministry. The Bill is to replace the existing voluntary Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Up till today, the Government has failed to take any initiative to introduce the proposed Bill.

In the same press report, Labour Department D-G Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim claimed that the introduction of such Bill “could lead to a dull and rigid environment in the workplace”. This clearly showed the mentality of a Government unconcerned for the welfare of the working class and have total disregard towards gender sensitivity.

The Government, especially Shahrizat, should realized that if even a senior civil servant in charge of labour can conclude that preventing sexual harassment will make the workplace “dull”, how little respect for gender and sexual sensitivity there will be in the actual working environment.

If Shahrizat really takes sexual harassment seriously, then the time is now to legislate against it. However, if the Minister is facing the same chauvinistic mentality and indifference from her Barisan Nasional male colleagues in Parliament to introduce the anti sexual harassment bill; rest be assured the Opposition bench, female and male MPs, will stand united to support her.

Chong Eng
Bukit Mertajam MP
DAP Deputy Secretary-General
DAP Wanita Chief