Health Ministry takes down 'victim-blaming' article on sexual harassment

Hariz Mohd
·2-min read
Health Ministry takes down 'victim-blaming' article on sexual harassment
Health Ministry takes down 'victim-blaming' article on sexual harassment

A sexual harassment article published on the Health Ministry's educational web portal appeared to have been taken down today, after it received heavy criticisms online for its alleged victim-blaming content.

The write-up titled 'Emotional Impact On Sexual Harassment Victims' is believed to have been on the MyHealth portal since 2016, but only came into the spotlight yesterday when a health news site editor urged the ministry to take the article down.

"This piece has no business being on a health website, much less @KKMPutrajaya. Please delete the article.

"Men engage in sexual harassment by abusing their power over women, especially in the workplace. It has nothing to do with the way women dress," CodeBlue editor Boo Su-Lyn tweeted.

She attached three screenshots showing parts of the article that stated several factors which purportedly lead to sexual harassment.

Among the factors cited by its author were "sexy and attractive body shape, charming personality, unsuitable clothing style, and unrestricted social interactions".

"A woman who works alone must avoid working overtime, she must look for other alternatives such as bringing back home the unfinished task. If there is no other choice she must ensure her presence is known by others or accompanied by friends.

"Indecent and inappropriate dressing style also brings danger. To avoid this, it’s better to dress up in an appropriate dressing code and in accordance with the circumstances," the article said in a section that discussed how sexual harassment can be addressed.

Malaysiakini has contacted the Health Ministry's Corporate Communications Department and its Health Education Division, which is in charge of MyHealth, for comments.

According to the article, which is no longer available on MyHealth as of this morning, it was last reviewed on Jan 5, 2016. It was written by a counsellor registered with the Malaysian Board of Counsellors.

Boo's tweet had since been retweeted over 500 times, and garnered many negative replies towards the article.

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The issue has also attracted the attention of former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh and health expert Dr Amar Singh, who urged the ministry to remove the article.

"I have been alerted about this article. This is absolutely wrong. @KKMPutrajaya must remove this," said Yeoh on Twitter.

Amar expressed his agreement with Yeoh, saying that it has "lots of nonsense".

"Putting all the blame on women for sexual harassment. Wonder how it could get approved in the first place.

"The Health Ministry should remove it as soon as possible," he added.