[PRESS STATEMENT] Unprecedented Consensus Towards a More Comprehensive Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

[PRESS STATEMENT] Unprecedented Consensus Towards a More Comprehensive  Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

Picture Taken from The Star

On 23 March 2022, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, ENGENDER Consultancy, and Young Women Making Change met with the Minister and representatives from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Special Advisor on Law and Human Rights to the Prime Minister, members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Women and Children Affairs and Social Development (PSSC), as well as drafters and advisors from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to discuss the need to review the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021.

This meeting was the first of its kind, where we were given the opportunity to share our concerns on the apparent gaps in the Bill, as well as provide legal justifications on our proposed amendments directly to the drafters from the AGC, in the presence of other aforementioned stakeholders. Despite the many points of discussion, we are heartened by the consensus at the end of the meeting that a review of the Bill is necessary to ensure that an effective and survivor-centric anti-sexual harassment legislation is passed in Malaysia.

While we have previously advocated for the Bill to be reviewed by the PSSC before the second reading in this Parliament session, this meeting made it clear that more time is needed for our proposed amendments to be studied, considered, and hopefully implemented in the Bill. We are cautiously optimistic that the drafters and advisors from the AGC will undertake a meticulous review of the Bill within a reasonable timeframe so that the Bill can be passed in the next Parliament sitting in July 2022.

In the meantime, we will continue our advocacy and engagements with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that key areas of concerns which we have consistently raised are addressed in the Bill, including but not limited to, for the inclusion of a comprehensive definition of sexual harassment, protection against victimisation, and organisational duty to prevent and address sexual harassment in creating a safer environment for all in schools, universities, workplaces and public spaces.

We would like to thank YB Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, representatives from the Ministry, YB Dato’ Sri Azalina Othman Said, the members of the PSSC as well as the AGC for their commitment to working together towards a more comprehensive Bill.

After 30 years, we all deserve a better bill.

#ReviewTheBill #KajiSemula

Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:

  1. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  2. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  3. Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
  4. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  5. Young Women Making Change Malaysia
  6. ENGENDER Consultancy
  7. KRYSS Network
  8. Family Frontiers
  9. Perak Women for Women (PWW)
  10. Justice for Sisters
  11. Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS)
  12. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  13. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  14. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO)
  15. EMPOWER
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