Rang undang-undang gangguan seksual: JAG mendesak kerajaan untuk memastikan nasib mangsa terjamin (Malay/English)

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Photograph: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas/Pexels

[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) berhati-hati dalam mengalukan pengumuman oleh Menteri Wanita, Keluarga dan Pembangunan Masyarakat Rina Harun.

Beliau menyatakan bahawa rang undang-undang gangguan seksual akan dibentangkan di Parlimen pada tahun ini.

Walaupun terdapat keperluan penting dalam perundangan gangguan seksual dan JAG meminta komitmen kerajaan untuk membentangkannya, namun, bagi tujuan ketulusan, kami berharap kementerian dapat berkongsi ‘kemajuan’ yang telah dilakukan terhadap rang undang-undang tersebut dan menjalankan dialog bersama mangsa dan organisasi masyarakat sivil yang bekerja dengan mangsa secara terus untuk menangani sebarang masalah yang dialami.

Keperluan untuk rang undang-undang gangguan seksual lebih jelas semasa dan selepas pendamik

Pandemik Covid-19 dan perintah kawalan pergerakan yang dijalankan bagi membendung penyebaran virus telah meningkatkan lagi kewujudan ketidakadilan gender.

Ketidakadilan berlaku dalam banyak cara, antaranya adalah peningkatan dalam keganasan gender secara fizikal dan dalam talian. Organisasi bukan kerajaan seperti All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) dan Kryss Network telah menangani keganasan gender secara langsung.

Pertanyaan yang diterima oleh hotline WAO bertambah sebanyak 3.5 kali ganda selepas perintah kawalan pergerakan.

Awam juga telah menerima peningkatan dalam pertanyaan berkenaan remaja perempuan yang memerlukan sokongan masalah mental, maklumat tentang perundangan dan hak-hak seksual. Sebanyak 23% panggilan yang diterima oleh talian bantuan Awam adalah berkaitan dengan kes gangguan seksual, di mana 38% merupakan gangguan seksual atas talian.

Kryss Network terus menerima aduan berkaitan keganasan berdasarkan gender secara atas talian daripada mangsa yang menderita penyebaran gambar peribadi (doxxing) dan penyebaran gambar intim tanpa persetujuan.

Gangguan seksual juga terjadi sebelum perintah kawalan pergerakan: dapatan tinjauan oleh Engender Consultancy dan Sisterhood Alliance menunjukkan 544 responden di Malaysia iaitu sebanyak 60.23% telah mengalami gangguan seksual di tempat umum.

Pandemik telah menyebabkan aktiviti harian dan akses kepada ativiti penting bergantung kepada penggunaan teknologi; hal ini termasuk bidang professional, pendidikan, dan aktiviti sosial.

Kajian yang telah dijalankan oleh UN women menunjukkan keganasan gender atas talian telah menyebabkan wanita sering mengehadkan aktiviti atas talian mereka.

Kajian oleh Juana Jaafar dalam keganasan berdasarkan gender atas talian di Malaysia “Voice, Visibility and a Variety of Viciousness” (Empower, 2017) mengesahkan sekurang-kurangnya 50% wanita berhenti menggunakan media sosial atau memadam akaun mereka kerana keganasan dan gangguan yang mereka lalui.

Hal ini bermaksud, gangguan seksual atas talian bukan sahaja memberi kesan emosi dan psikologi kepada wanita, ia juga menjadi penghalang kepada banyak aspek dalam kehidupan seharian mereka.

World Economic Forum mengikhtiraf gangguan seksual sebagai faktor utama wanita berhenti kerja dan kesan keganasan gender atas talian mempunyai kesan yang sama.

Sejak bermulannya pandemik, partisipasi wanita dalam eknomi menjadi lebih terbantut. Wanita yang mempunyai anak di rumah atau ahli keluarga yang tua dan sakit memerlukan tumpuan yang lebih. Wanita perlu menyimbangkan kerja peribadi dan tanggungjawab professional. Kerja peribadi yang dijalankan oleh wanita adalah tanpa bayaran (unpaid care).

Situasi yang dilalui wanita sekarang dengan pertambahan kongkongan penglibatan dalam ekonomi dan kurangnya perhubungan serta kekurangan celik huruf digital (digital illiteracy), telah menyebabkan perlindungan dan mekanisma saluran tebus (redress) perlu lebih terjamin. Hal ini bagi memastikan wanita tidak terus melalui kehilangan dan kekurangan pendapatan disebabkan gangguan seksual.

Rang undang-undang gangguan seksual perlu dengan segera menangani masalah yang dibincangkan dan ketidaksamarataan lain yang dilalui oleh wanita yang terus meningkat semasa pandemik.

Rang undang-undang ini mesti inklusif, menyeluruh dan luas

Oleh sebab sifat gangguan seksual yang berbagai dan kerana ia wujud di dunia fizikal dan maya, rang undang-undang gangguan seksual mestilah mengandungi peruntukan yang melindungi dan memberikan tebus rugi kepada semua pemandiri gangguan seksual.

Pertama sekali, rang-rang undang ini perlulah inklusif dengan siapa yang dilindungi di bawah undang-undang ini. Sesiapa yang telah mengalami gangguan seksual tanpa kira konteks di mana ia berlaku, sama ada dalam bidang profesional, pendidikan, agama, awam ataupun peribadi, mestilah layak untuk mendapat perlindungan. Selain itu, rang undang-undang ini haruslah melindungi semua orang di Malaysia secara sama rata tanpa mengira tempat atau status kewarganegaraan mereka.

READ MORE:  Tabling the right type of sexual harassment bill

Kedua, rang undang-undang ini mestilah menyeluruh dalam definisi gangguan seksual yang diberikan. Definisi gangguan seksual harus merangkumi kelakuan tidak diingini yang berjenis seksual yang mempuyai tujuan atau mampu mencabuli kehormatan individu yang diganggu atau mampu menjadikan sesuatu persekitaran itu menakutkan dan tidak selamat.

Bukan itu sahaja, rang-rang undang ini mestilah merangkumi semua jenis perlakuan fizikal, lisan atau tidak lisan dan visual sama ada ia berlaku di kehidupan sebenar atau di alam maya yang terdiri daripada pelbagai saluran dari mesej teks ke mesej WhatsApp ke media sosial ke teknologi persidangan video.

Akhir sekali, rang undang-undang ini mestilah luas dari segi kewajipannya dan perlindungan yang diberikan kepada pemandiri. Contohnya, ini termasuk memastikan semua organisasi memainkan peranan yang proaktif dalam mengimplementasikan dasar gangguan seksual dan memastikan semua perkerja, sukarelawan, ahli telah diberikan taklimat yang menyeluruh tentang dasar ini supaya undang-undang ini bukan sahaja untuk bertindak apabila terdapat kejadian gangguan seksual yang sudah berlaku, tetapi untuk menjadi proaktif untuk dalam langkah pencegahan supaya ia tidak berlaku.

Ini termasuk penubuhan tribunal gangguan seksual yang membolehkan pemandiri membawa aduan mereka ke tribunal dengan cara yang kurang mahal, secara cepat dan kurang membebankan. Ramai pemandiri gangguan seksual memilih untuk tidak membuat laporan polis terhadap pelaku mereka dan mahukan gangguan itu untuk berhenti atau mahu kembali kepada kedudukan mereka sebelum gangguan itu berlaku.

Tribunal ini mesti mempunyai kebolehan untuk memberikan pelbagai jenis remedi kerana ianya mewujudkan alternatif yang lebih mudah untuk diakses bagi membuat laporan polis atau pergi ke mahkamah sivil. Oleh itu, pemandiri boleh mendapat pertolongan yang diperlukan.

Perjalanan rang undang-undang gangguan seksual adalah sangat panjang dan berliku, dan keputusan terakhir mesti memastikan mangsa didahulukan

Gangguan seksual merupakan isu serius yang dihadapi wanita di Malaysia samada atas talian atau luar talian. Enakmen rang undang-undang gangguan seksual  yang inklusif, menyeluruh dan luas, secara rasmi akan mengakui kemudaratan dan kesan negatif gangguan seksual ke atas wanita dari segi ekonomi, orang awam, dan pembabitan politik termasuk kehidupan peribadi mereka.

JAG dan kumpulan wanita yang lain telah mengetuai perjuangan akta gangguan seksual semenjak 2011, hampir dua dekad dengan pelbagai kerajaan. Kami optimistik tentang komitmen yang ditunjukkan kerajaan semenjak tahun lepas, bukan sahaja dalam pembentangan rang undang-undang, juga perhubungan kerajaan dengan masyarakat sivil  sepanjang proses tersebut.

Kami berharap kerajaan dan Kementerian Wanita yang berkenaan akan terus bekerjasama dengan kumpulan pejuang hak wanita untuk memastikan rang undang-undang yang dibentangkan di Parlimen adalah bersesuaian dan berdasarkan realiti kehidupan wanita di Malaysia. Kami juga berharap rang undang-undang tersebut dapat membantu mangsa gangguan seksual dalam cara yang terbaik.

English version

JAG welcomes announcement that sexual harassment bill will be tabled, urges government to continue engagement to ensure survivors benefit

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) cautiously welcomes the announcement by Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Rina Harun that the sexual harassment bill will be tabled in Parliament this year.

While there is an urgent need for sexual harassment legislation and JAG commends the government’s commitment to tabling it, in the interest of transparency, we hope that the ministry will share the stated ‘improvements’ that have been made to the bill and engage in a dialogue with survivors and civil society organisations who work with survivors over any potential areas of concern.

READ MORE:  Safeguard rights of sexual harassment survivors

Need for sexual harassment bill more clear than ever, during and in aftermath of pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary movement control order that was put in place to curb the spread of the virus have exposed and amplified many existing gender inequalities.

This was manifested in many forms, including in a sharp rise in physical and online gender-based violence, observed first-hand by NGO service providers like All Women’s Action Society (Awam), Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Kryss Network.

While enquiries to the WAO’s hotline multiplied 3.5 times after the start of the movement control order, Awam has also received an increase in enquiries from young women seeking mental health support and information on legal and sexual rights: 23% of calls received on Awam’s helpline were sexual harassment cases, of which more than 38% were online sexual harassment.

Kryss Network continues to receive complaints of online gender-based violence faced by victims resulting from acts of doxxing and non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Even prior to the movement control order, preliminary findings from a survey by Engender Consultancy and Sisterhood Alliance of 544 respondents in Malaysia showed that 60.25% had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.

With the pandemic, everyday activities and access to critical services have become dependent on the use of technology, including in the realm of professional, educational, and social activities.

A recent UN women’s publication cites research suggesting that as a result of online gender-based violence, women tend to restrict their online activities.

Juana Jaafar’s research on online gender-based violence in Malaysia, “Voice, Visibility and a Variety of Viciousness” (Empower, 2017), confirms that at least 50% of women will either stop using social media or delete their accounts completely because of the violence and harassment they have faced, which means that online sexual harassment – in addition to the emotional and psychological impact on women – also hinders many other aspects of their lives.

The World Economic Forum has recognised that sexual harassment is a major factor behind women opting out of the workforce, and the impact of online gender-based violence is very much similar.

Since the start of the pandemic, women’s economic participation has already been further hindered. With children being home from school, ill or elderly family members requiring greater care, and more meals to prepare, women have had to take on an even greater share of unpaid care work and thus have had to further juggle personal and professional responsibilities, which has forced some women to leave the workforce altogether.

With the current situation and the additional barriers to economic participation of lack of connectivity and lack of digital literacy, it is even more critical that proper protection and redress mechanisms are in place to ensure that women are not further forced to endure lost or reduced income as a result of sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment bill is urgently needed to address these and other inequalities experienced by women, and which have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Sexual harassment bill must be inclusive, comprehensive, expansive

Given the multi-faceted nature of sexual harassment and the diverse ways in which it is manifested in both the physical and virtual world, the sexual harassment bill must contain provisions to adequately protect and offer redress to all survivors of sexual harassment.

First and foremost, the bill must be inclusive in who is covered under the scope of the law. Any individual who experiences sexual harassment regardless of the context -whether professional, educational, religious, public, or private – must have the ability to seek protection and recourse. Furthermore, the bill must equally protect every person in Malaysia, regardless of location or legal status.

READ MORE:  Women's group proposes priorities for new select committee

Second, the bill must be comprehensive in the way it defines sexual harassment. The definition of sexual harassment should include any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of the person harassed or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Additionally, it must include all types of conduct, across all types of mediums, from physical conduct to implied or overt verbal, non-verbal, visual or gestural conduct, whether taking place in person or in the virtual world using any variety of platforms, from text, to WhatsApp, to social media, to video-conferencing technologies.

Finally, the bill must be expansive in the obligations it imposes and in the protections and redress mechanisms it affords to survivors. For example, this includes imposing a proactive duty on all organisations to implement a sexual harassment policy and ensure its employees, volunteers, members, etc are thoroughly briefed on such policy, so that the law is not only reactive to incidents of harassment that have already transpired, but also proactive in preventing sexual harassment.

This also includes establishing a sexual harassment tribunal to allow survivors to bring complaints of sexual harassment in a way that is less expensive, faster and less burdensome. Many survivors of sexual harassment opt not to file a police report against their perpetrator and simply want the harassment to stop or for their position prior to the harassment to be restored.

The tribunal must have the ability to grant a wide variety of remedies so that it is established as a viable alternative to filing a police report or going to civil court and so survivors can access the necessary recourse in a streamlined way.

Road to bill has been long and winding, and final result must keep survivors at the forefront

Sexual harassment has always been a serious issue faced by women in Malaysia, both online or offline. The enactment of an inclusive, comprehensive and expansive sexual harassment bill will formally acknowledge the severity of the harm and the negative effect sexual harassment can have on women’s economic, public, and political participation, as well as on their personal lives.

JAG and other women’s groups have been leading the call for a sexual harassment act since 2001, for nearly two decades and with multiple governments. We were optimistic at the commitment shown last year by the previous government not only to tabling the bill, but to engaging meaningfully with civil society throughout the process.

Similarly, we hope that the government, and the Ministry of Women in particular, will continue to engage with the women’s rights groups to ensure that the sexual harassment bill that gets tabled in Parliament is tailored and responsive to the everyday realities of women in Malaysia, and that the bill ultimately serves its intended beneficiary – survivors of sexual harassment – in the best and most comprehensive way possible.

Endorsed by the following JAG member organisations:

  • All Women’s Action Society (Awam)
  • Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  • Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
  • Justice for Sisters
  • Kryss Network
  • Perak Women for Women (PWW)
  • Sisters in Islam (SIS)
  • Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
  • Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS)
  • Tenaganita
  • Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
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