Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Men and women can be victims and perpetrators. It is probably sexual harassment if you feel uncomfortable or threatened.
Getting Help For Sexual Harassment
If you are sexually harassed in your workplace, tell the harasser that his behaviour is unwelcome and that you want it to stop. Say it firmly so the harasser knows you mean business!
Here are some ways you can make your point:
- “When you look at me like that, I feel really uncomfortable. I’m asking you to stop it.”
- “I’ve said ‘no’ before when you’ve asked me out, and I’m not going to change my mind. If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to tell the boss (or manager, teacher, etc.) about it.”
- “I am going to file a report if you touch me (talk to me, say that, etc.) again.”
- “Yeah, I do have a sense of humour. But what you’re saying isn’t a joke – it’s sexual harassment. If you don’t stop, I will need to speak to our boss (manager, principal, etc.).”
If the harassment continues, talk to someone in your organisation who can help you. Approach your Human Resource Officer or Sexual Harassment Counsellor and your Employee/Union Representative. If it is your Manager or Supervisor who is harassing you, speak to someone more senior, as well as to your Personnel Officer and Union Representative.
Record the details of when, where, and how the incident happened. If the same person is also harassing any of your colleagues, ask them to keep records too. This can help establish a case against your harasser.
If none of these are possible or if no action is taken by your employer, then you should seek help from outside the organisation you work for.
(a) Complain to the Labour Department in your state
The Malaysian Government has amended the employment in 2012. When you make a complaint to the Labour Department, the Department can pressure your employer to look into your matter seriously by requesting an internal investigation.
(b) Lodge a Police Report
Legally speaking, there is no specific offence of sexual harassment in Malaysia. Hence, if a police report were lodged, the police would have to look to the general criminal law (Penal Code) in order to decide which particular offence to charge the harasser with. The case would then be treated like any other sexual offence case.
Again, lodging a police report could also be an effective tool. In addition to the police investigation and possible charges in court, it could send a clear message to the harasser that he is not getting away with it since the police are aware of the matter.
(c) Suing the Harasser
It may be possible to file a civil suit against the harasser under certain circumstances. If you wish to take this step, you should consult a lawyer to get an opinion on the particular facts of your case. However, going to court is usually an expensive and time-consuming process.
Proving a case of sexual harassment can be difficult – since harassment usually takes place in private, there may be a lack of witnesses. Besides, the absence of a specific law on sexual harassment can make it a problem establishing a case. But there are people within your workplace, as well as other groups, such as trade unions that can support you.
Speaking up and you could help yourself and the other victims of the same harasser. Your case may also help prevent the perpetrator from repeating the offence in the future. So don’t give up!
Check out useful resources you can use.