The Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021 is scheduled for second reading in Parliament in the next few weeks.
In anticipation of this, on 14 March 2022, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, Engender Consultancy and Young Women Making Change met the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun to discuss the need to review the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021 before the second reading.
In light of current gaps in the bill, we highlighted the opportunity to utilise available parliamentary processes to address our concerns, specifically the parliamentary Special Select Committee on Women and Children Affairs and Social Development. The special select committee has the power to substantively review and reconsider the areas omitted from the bill, as highlighted in our memorandum and provide necessary recommendations prior to the second reading.
According to an Ipsos’ survey released on International Women’s Day, 35% of Malaysians feel that sexual harassment is their top concern among other important issues faced by women in the country. There is clearly an urgent need for a bill with a proper redress and prevention mechanism which includes, among others, organisational duties, a comprehensive definition of sexual harassment, and protection against victimisation.
Given the fruitful discussion with the ministry on these improvements and shared interest in exploring the role of the parliamentary special select committee, we urge the minister to facilitate this parliamentary process that will benefit Malaysians at large. We are hopeful that this review will be undertaken within a reasonable time frame that enables the Rakyat’s needs to be addressed.
In support of this, we will submit an official request to the parliamentary special select committee to undertake the review of the bill. We offer our full support to the ministry and special select committee in ensuring a productive and timely review.
We would like to thank Rina Harun for taking the time to listen to our concerns, as well as the commitment of the ministry in working together for a comprehensive and effective anti-sexual harassment legislation in Malaysia.
After 30 years, we all deserve a better bill. #ReviewTheBill #KajiSemula
Endorsed by the following organisations:
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
Sisters in Islam (SIS)
Justice for Sisters
Perak Women for Women
Young Women Making Change Malaysia
Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
Sarawak Women for Women Society