Women’s Ministry proposes e-filing system for sexual harassment victims to channel complaints

PUTRAJAYA, March 21 —The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) intends to develop an e-filing system that will enable more victims of sexual harassment outside Putrajaya to lodge complaints with the Anti-Sexual Harassment Tribunal.

Its minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said currently, tribunal complaint counters have been operational at Level G, KPWKM here since March 11.

They are ready to receive complaints of sexual harassment cases occurring on or after March 8 this year, the date the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 (Act 840) came into effect.

“We are in the process of establishing (the e-filing system) to allow victims from other states to also report wherever they are.

“The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022 applies nationwide, so while waiting for the system to be ready, victims need to come to Putrajaya to make reports or complaints,” she told the media after the handing over of appointment letters for members of the tribunal here today.

She said the tribunal provides an alternative channel to civil courts to expedite sexual harassment complaints with minimal cost, enabling victims to take action against perpetrators to obtain compensation for damages resulting from the harassment.

The tribunal also aims to hear and adjudicate sexual harassment complaints fairly and impartially.

“The establishment of this tribunal is not intended to take over the functions of the court but to provide options for victims to either file complaints with the tribunal or take civil action in court.

“Section 8 of Act 840 states that there is no overlap in jurisdiction between the tribunal and civil courts. At the same time, victims can still file police reports for investigations to be conducted for criminal action to be taken against the perpetrators,” she said.

Meanwhile, Anti-Sexual Harassment Tribunal president Syafeera Mohd Said pointed out that cases brought to the tribunal will be resolved within 60 days from the date of the first hearing.

The victim or complainant will need to visit the complaint counter to file their complaint, which incurs a fee of RM30 per submission, she said.

“According to the act, it requires 14 days to serve the complaint form on the respondent, and the respondent must respond with a defence within 14 working days.

“Then we will serve a hearing notice to both parties to attend the tribunal for case hearing, and during this period, both parties cannot be represented by lawyers.

“After the hearing, an award will be given if sexual harassment is proven with compensation or damages capped at RM250,000, in addition to an apology,” she said, adding that if either the respondent or complainant is dissatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, they can file a judicial review in court.

At the event, Nancy handed over appointment letters to 30 tribunal members, appointed according to provisions under Section 4 of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act 2022.

They comprise individuals with various professional backgrounds from the public and private sectors and non-governmental organisations.

The tribunal members are responsible for hearing complaints and initiating the prosecution process. — Bernama




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