Review to shorten 21-day SOP to probe sexual harassment cases

07 Dec 2018 / 18:26 H.

PUTRAJAYA: The Women, Community and Family Development Ministry is conducting a review to shorten the 21-day standard operating procedure (SOP) to investigate sexual harassment cases.

Deputy minister Hannah Yeoh said the ministry was in discussion with the Public Service Department to revamp the SOP in order to be more sensitive in investigating such cases.

“Under the current SOP, any sexual harassment case will be reported to the immediate boss. But in the case of Sungai Buloh Hospital, the perpetrator is the boss. Such cases, in future, must be handled by a neutral body and integrity unit.

“The review will also cut short the timeline of action taken because when the victims need to go back to work, longer days of investigation will affect them,“ she told reporters after launching the Forum on Sexual Harassment in Malaysia, co-organised with the United Nations in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, today.

After the review, the ministry would also do an impact study to be completed by the end of January 2019, before presenting the draft to Parliament and civil societies, she said.

On the Sexual Harassment Act, Yeoh said it would be a comprehensive bill to address all sexual harassment cases not only at the workplace or in the public sector, but also in the private sector, as well as at universities.

On a separate development, Yeoh also appealed to the public to respect the privacy of those named in the letter alleging a sexual harassment culture at a business radio station and refrain from spreading the email and speculation, since those implicated have the right to a fair tribunal and privacy.

“I have been getting emails from residents asking me what are we going to do about it. There is an internal investigation going on. If there is a police report, then the ministry will investigate,“ she said.

The anonymous allegation of widespread sexual harassment at the radio station and a cover-up by the management on behalf of favoured staff members was sent to news outlets on Nov 29 and leaked online shortly after.

Earlier, Yeoh in her opening keynote address said according to the Manpower Department, a total of 93 sexual harassment cases were reported between 2014 and 2018, with 90 of these cases solved while the remaining were still being investigated.

Meanwhile, according to the data recorded by the Public Service Department, disciplinary actions were taken in 47 sexual harassment cases between 2015 and 2017. — Bernama

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