Putrajaya moots shorter inquiry to protect sexual harassment victims

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Yeoh said today the proposal for a shorter probe is among the SOPs being considered under the Sexual Harassment Bill, which the government expects to table sometime next year. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 7 — Employers would have to wrap up internal investigations on sexual harassment complaints in under two weeks as part of their standard operating procedure (SOP) under a new law to be introduced, if the government has its way.

Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh said today the proposal for a shorter probe is among the SOPs being considered under the Sexual Harassment Bill, which the government expects to table sometime next year.

“In the workplace, it affects you to go to the workplace, that’s why investigations into sexual harassment allegations must be shortened,” she told reporters after launching a forum on the issue organised by her ministry and the United Nations Malaysia Team here.

The current timeframe for internal investigations into individual sexual harassment complaints is two weeks.

Yeoh explained that the proposal aimed to reduce the anxiety of sexual harassment complainants.

“Usually sexual harassments happen at the workplace so 14 days can seem like forever especially when it happened at the office and the perpetrator is your colleague,” she said.

There are government guidelines for internal inquiries to deal with complaints at workplaces but currently no explicit law to deal with sexual harassment.

Past complaints have been dealt with through provisions for “sexual-related crimes” under the Penal Code.

In August, Yeoh said the proposed legislation aims to complement existing criminal laws related to sexual harassment by plugging in loopholes that will criminalise parties that fail to act on complaints.

The government plans to table the anti-sexual harassment law together with a Bill on gender equality, the deputy minister said.

Related Articles Senior Sabah cop investigated for sexually harassing men Sexual Harassment Bill with stronger bite in the works, says Hannah Yeoh Doctors push for sexual harassment law after outcry over sex predator orthopaedist