PM: Respect and protect women

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 25, 2013): In an oblique reference to the assault of a factory worker by her estranged husband in a Penang lift recently as an act of disrespect to women, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysians should respect women "at home, at work and even in a lift".

He said Malaysians should make a concerted effort to respect women in the light of domestic abuse cases that have caught media attention.

In the incident on Aug 12, the woman and her husband had separately gone to the hospital to visit their eldest child, aged nine, who was warded for high fever. The man assaulted his wife when they had an argument in the lift.

Veterinary officer Mohammad Affandi Ismail, 36, has since been charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code for causing hurt.

The prime minister said a comprehensive system of mechanisms exist to protect abused women besides legal safeguards to protect them from discrimination and abuse.

He cited the example of the Domestic Violence Act 1994 which had been amended on Dec 21, 2011 to protect women from emotional, mental and psychological abuse and the use of intoxicants on women or children.

"The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace has been a matter of concern for the government," he said at the launch of the "Respect Women: A Harmonious Community" campaign today.

He said on April 1, 2012, the Employment Act 1955 was amended to make it, among other things, mandatory for companies to report cases of sexual harassment to the director-general of Labour.

He said that the government had also amended Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution in 2001 to make gender-based discrimination unlawful.

Najib said the government had set up 41 centres for victims of domestic violence, Talian Nur, One Stop Crisis Centres and counselling services provided by the National Population and Family Development Board, the Social Welfare Department and the Women's Development Department.

He said women play a vital role in transforming Malaysia into a developed nation, and are essential in the nation-building process.

"We have to give them chances and opportunities, because it is proven that given high positions in government, women have excelled. It is no problem for the government to give opportunities to women."

He called on employers to respect the needs of women in the workforce and the family and provide them workplaces that were women-friendly.

"The government hopes more organisations will give more facilities to help women in the workforce. If we respect what they want, we will provide workplaces that are women-friendly, with daycare centres, flexible hours, and it is not impossible to allow them to work from home."