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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VERBAL, NON-VERBAL, VISUAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL HARASSMENT ?

A verbal harassment is in oral form and includes uncomfortable and offensive teasing, joking, questioning, jesting or making suggestive remarks or sounds, or verbal repartee.

Whereas a leer with indecent overtone, sexual activity or desire denoted by hand signal, lips licking or food eating and persistent flirting are categorized as non-verbal harassment.

Covering the wall with pin-up, calendars, drawings, photographs of naked and scantily clad women or other sex-based materials and writing sex-based letter are considered visual harassment. Sexual exposure also falls under this form of sexual harassment.

Psychological harassment harms a person's psychological well being and includes oppressively constant proposals for dates, repeated undesirable physical intimacy or social invitations.

Physical harassment includes distasteful action such as touching of an intimate body part, patting, pinching, stroking, brushing up against the body, hugging, kissing, fondling and sexual assault.

All forms of sexual harassment are behavior that elicit sexual attention.

ARE THERE ANY LAW IN MALAYSIA TO DEAL SPECIFICALLY WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASES ?

No. There is only one law in existence that comes close to dealing with the issue of sexual harassment in Malaysia - Penal Code, section 509.

The Penal Code, section 509 provides that :

"Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any women, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture or exhibit any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object shall be seen by such woman, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or with fine, or with both".

This existing law deals more with physical aspects. Sexual harassment cases are currently handled by the police and claims are made under the Penal Code, section 509.

Nevertheless, the Industrial Relations Act 1967, may be amended to provide for action against sexual harassment perpetrators. This amendment is to curb sexual harassment.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Human Resources is using its influence to encourage employers to adopt the Code of Practice against sexual harassment and an internal mechanism to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. This code was introduced in 1999.

The Code of Practice outlines the statement of purpose, legal definition of harassment, descriptions of behavior that constitutes harassment, how employees should handle harassment, how the company handles complaints, what kind of disciplinary action and name and phone numbers to lodge a complaint.

Majority of businesses in Malaysia do not have any form of policy against sexual harassment.



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