By John Isaac
MPs have renewed their call for the Sexual Harassment Bill to be tabled as soon as possible amid a series of incidents involving police.
“That’s why we need the Sexual Harassment Act. Those in the civil service, especially frontliners, are our pillar of strength during the pandemic.
“We appreciate their contributions and expect them to be the last to abuse their position,” said Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.
On Feb 11, a woman complained that a police personnel stopped her at a roadblock to get her details and later texted her to “get to know” her.
According to Malaysiakini reports, this prompted many more women to share their experiences with police personnel at roadblocks, some involving sexual harassment.
In a separate incident, a police officer allegedly questioned a woman for not wearing a bra and asked her to expose herself to be let off.
There is an increased number of police roadblocks following the implementation of the movement control order on Jan 13 to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Fuziah urged Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador to take the matter seriously so as not to allow a few bad apples to tarnish the image of the police force.
“Stern action must be taken to send a strong signal that this kind of harassment is totally unacceptable,” she said.
Police are investigating both incidents.
Meanwhile, Batu Kawan MP Kashturi Patto urged Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun to give an update on the Sexual Harassment Bill.
“YB Rina, given the multiple exposés of women sexually harassed by law enforcement officers, delivery riders, doctors, lecturers, lawyers, the list goes on – is the final draft of #SexualHarassmentBill ready?” she said.
Rina had on Jan 7 said the bill will be tabled this year.
Four days later, a state of emergency was declared and Parliament was suspended.
The Perikatan Nasional government, which said it needed emergency powers to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, can govern without a Parliament until the emergency expires on Aug 1.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who lost his majority in the Dewan Rakyat, may also call for a general election after the emergency is lifted, which could further delay the Sexual Harassment Bill.
The bill was supposed to be tabled in Parliament last year but was delayed following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.