Zero-tolerance for sexual harassment by politicians

MP SPEAKS | I am appalled by the sheer disregard of basic civility and human rights in regard to the allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female journalists by Malaysian politicians, including ministers.

Furthermore, I was stunned by the unethical and insensitive statement first issued by the president of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohd Taufek Razak, of Utusan Melayu. His stance and message were shameful and uncalled for.

I urge Taufek (photo) to focus on investigating the claims brought to light by this revelation, whilst proclaiming his support towards the safety of all journalists, instead of directly blaming female journalists for inappropriate dress.

I commend the NUJ on retracting and revising Taufek’s original words, but I believe more needs to be done.

I note that the first statement accurately reflected the unfortunate reality that even within institutions whose purpose is employee protection, there is little concern or understanding about issues of sexual harassment.

Legislators, and the entire government fraternity, should not tolerate accusations of sexual harassment committed by politicians.

Silence by all parties is a sign that the act is condoned, and does not indicate a serious desire to resolve the woes faced by female journalists.

In addition, I implore all political parties alike to conduct a thorough background check on all politicians within their organisations, regardless of status and positions.

Political parties must be sensitive towards such behavior and take strong disciplinary measures as well as legal action whenever cases of sexual harassment are traced.

The party leadership especially, plays a crucial role in eradicating such monsters from being involved in politics and freely mingling with the public.

I support the idea of zero-tolerance policy in these situations. Positive character and integrity must be prioritised, as the key elements internalised by all politicians and party members, while those negative traits and behaviors should be removed at the soonest instant.

Future politicians should be educated – as they rise through their party apparatus – on issues of ethical behavior and what constitutes non-tolerable manners for a public figure.

There must be a clear realisation that those with bad reputations and heinous backgrounds will not be accepted in politics, especially with the public eyes continuously watching.

Sexual harassment is not a class-based crime, as it occurs across all levels of society. Hence, I envision the accusation towards politicians on this matter as a timely spark that will light up the whole country on this matter.

As for PKR, we are dedicated towards ensuring the integrity of all our members, as they represent the image brought upon by the party.

Any accusations associated with criminal acts shall be thoroughly deliberated at the internal level (particularly by the Political Bureau) and the party’s disciplinary committee will not hesitate to take further action if the accused is found guilty.

Being a politician myself, I do appreciate the existing cooperation between the media and political organisations. Hence, I would to extend a helping hand to all journalists, while requesting urgent legal interference with regards to the sexual harassment accusations.

Also, I urge NUJ to be more proactive in protecting the welfare and relevant needs of Malaysian journalists. Comments must come after actually consulting victims in the case of handling such alarming matters.

At this point, in fact, it would be much appreciated if NUJ could provide legal assistance and psychological help for the affected members.

On a larger scale, all public members alike, males and females, should also be heard as proponents of personal safety and security.

By voicing out all concerns related to sexual harassment through available channels and agencies, rightful actions can be taken against these evil and exploitative perpetrators – politicians and high-ranking individuals included.


NURUL IZZAH ANWAR is the Lembah Pantai MP and PKR vice-president.

 

Artikel disiar pada January 18, 2018 - 3:15 pm oleh Susan Loo

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