More men have come forward and lodged reports on sexual harassment, says Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
Citing the 762 cases reported from July 6 to Oct 2, she said that men made 187 reports while the rest came from women.
“The majority of the cases reported by men were harassment made using jokes,” she said.
She said Kelantan recorded the highest number of reports from men (52 cases) during that period.
Nancy explained that there were four levels for categorising the seriousness of a sexual harassment case.
A “low-level” case is when someone makes sexual jokes against the victims.
“Mid-level” is when the victim has had to deal with sexual gestures or verbal language by the abuser.
As for “high-level” sexual harassment, this happens when the abuser asks the victim to perform sexual acts or looks at the person in an inappropriate manner, among others.
“The critical level happens when the abuser keeps harassing the person to the extent that it causes physical and mental harm,” said Nancy.
From the 52 cases in Kelantan, she said 34 were low level, 12 were mid level, and the remaining six were categorised as high level.
She noted that there was one critical sexual harassment case reported to the police in Penang by a woman.
Speaking to reporters after attending an Anti-Sexual Harassment Advocacy programme here yesterday, Nancy said the number of people lodging complaints about sexual harassment had gone up.
“We believe that advocacy programmes have helped the victims, be they women, men or children, to speak up.”
Citing data from that same period, she said the highest number of sexual harassment cases came from Kedah (160 reports).
This was followed by Kelantan (143) and Sabah (116).
“The frequency of sexual harassment cases happening is probably higher than the reported cases.
“We will continue to raise awareness and advocate these programmes,” she added.
Referring to police statistics, Nancy said that 378 cases were reported in 2020, 506 cases in 2021, and 477 cases were reported last year.
“These cases involved both men and women,” she said, elaborating that most of the cases were reported by women, with 354 cases in 2020, 446 cases in 2021, and 416 last year.
Separately, she said there would be at least 10 panels in the Anti-Sexual Harassment Tribunal, which would include a president, a deputy and other members.
“There are two parts that we need to address first, namely the administrative and legal matters.
“As we have received the approval to have members appointed in the tribunal, we are discussing the financial part to propose the salary rate for the appointed panel,” she said.
On Aug 29, Nancy said the ministry submitted a complete list of names for the tribunal and was awaiting the Attorney General’s Chambers’ approval as the members are lawyers.
The tribunal is a critical part of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, which was passed by Parliament in August and gazetted in October last year.
It would deliberate sexual harassment complaints and provide a mechanism for those who have been sexually harassed to seek redress.
Despite the absence of the tribunal, the ministry explained that several sections of the Act have come into force, including Section 1 – Simple Titles and Commencement; (ii) Section 2 – Interpretation; (iii) Section 24 – Administrator; (iv) Section 25 – Functions and powers of the administrator; and (v) Section 26 – Power to make regulations.