SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment refers to an unwanted or unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature, and may be committed physically, verbally, non-verbally, psychologically and/ or visually, which can or may cause the person being harassed to feel humiliated, offended or threatened.

 

Sexual harassment is perceived as a spectrum. On the lower end of the spectrum would be conduct such as cat-calling whereas on the other end, you will find acts such as stalking, sexual assault and rape.

In Malaysia, the only acknowledged form of Sexual Harassment is listed under the Employment Act. This relates to Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. Several forms of Sexual Assault is criminalized under the Penal Code.

Forms of Sexual Harassment

There are various forms of Sexual Harassment:
Physical, Verbal, Nonverbal, Visual, Psychological, Online.

Online Harassment or Cyber Harassment


Online sexual harassment 
– or sexual cyberharassment – refers to threatening or harassing messages disseminated via emails, instant messaging services, social media platforms or other digital materials that are posted online. It usually targets a specific person either through direct contact or by the act or threat of disseminating personal information or materials that causes distress, fear, and/ or anger.

Cyberstalking is an exaggerated form of online sexual harassment, involving the use of electronic means to monitor or stalk a person unlawfully,threateningly or maliciously.


To know more about your legal options, call our helpline at 03-7877-0224.

REPORT TO MCMC

Coercion

It refers to any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which occurs when one is pressured, tricked, threatened or forced into receiving said conduct. What must be distinguished here is that the person being sexually harassed is being coerced in a non-physical way into receiving the harassment. In some countries, this is also known as Quid Pro Quo.

A real life example that happened at Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur is where a tertiary student was being compelled by a lecturer to ‘go out with him‘ in exchange for financial assistance given by the university. The lecturer in questions was in charge of endorsing or recommending student beneficiaries.

In this instance, it is clear that the sexual harasser’s (the lecturer) method of securing the survivor’s (the student) agreement – not consent, as consent cannot be given under duress – was not physical in nature even if the act he was proposing (‘go out with him’) could be or lead to an act of a sexual nature.

Annoyance

It refers to any unwanted conduct that is directly or indirectly of a sexual nature and creates an environment that is offensive, hostile or intimidating as perceived by the the other party. Sexual annoyance often results in a disruption to the other party’s day-to-day routine or activities as a s result of a hostile or intimidating environment.

An example of this would where a security guard asks a person out everyday despite repetitive rejections.The security guard then goes on to create situations where they are constantly dodging the person’s footsteps – and even goes so far as to leave love letters on the person’s windscreen. The situation makes the person feel very alarmed and is worried for her safety. The situation compels her to come to office later than usual or leave office early to avoid running into the security guard. It has affected her work performance and satisfaction. This person is now thinking of leaving her job in order to escape said security guard.

Here, it is clear that the person receiving the security guard’s attentions find it disturbing, alarming and that creates a hostile environment where the peron feels unsafe. This has resulted in the person making dramatic changes to her life in order to avoid or end the unwanted conduct of the security guard.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any type of unwanted or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature that happens through force, threat of force or creates an atmosphere of hostility and or intimidation. In certain cases, rape can be considered to be part of an extended incident of sexual assault.

What to do if you are sexually harassed?

1) TELL of the harasser that their behavior isn’t welcomed

2) RECORD each incident in writing such as Identity, time and date of the incident, the Place of the incident, Nature of the harassment, witness and evidence (if available)

3) Get EMOTIONAL SUPPORT such as friends, family, classmates, colleagues, housemates

4) Make a COMPLAINT

5) Contact organizations for HELP such as AWAM

6) Demand to be informed of the development of the case.

Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination refers to discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex or gender identity. For example, companies who do not promote women unfairly is considered to commit sex discrimination.

Sex Discrimination Harassment can include Sexual Harassment or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. However, this is not a requirement. For example, offensive remarks about a person’s sex is sufficient.

While simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, it is considered harassment when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

Sources:
https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape/sexual-assault
https://www.forensicnotes.com/workplace-sexual-harassment/
https://hbr.org/2018/06/its-not-always-clear-what-constitutes-sexual-harassment-use-this-tool-to-navigate-the-gray-areas
https://privacyrights.org/consumer-guides/online-harassment-cyberstalking
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sex.cfm