Groups slam bias against Yeoh’s sexual assault claim

Loh-Cheng-Kooi-Cheryl-YeohPETALING JAYA: The negative reaction from some people to the admission by former MaGIC CEO Cheryl Yeoh of a personal experience with sexual assault has thrown light on the reason why many women prefer to remain quiet, women’s rights group say.

The fact that some people could blame Yeoh for the incident which involved her and a venture capitalist from the United States also illustrates the backlash women face when they decide to complain, Star reported.

“The public needs to support victims of sexual crimes and not dampen their spirit, Women’s Centre for Change Penang executive director Loh Cheng Kooi was quoted as saying, adding she was “appalled” that people were blaming Yeoh for the incident.

On Monday, Yeoh had related her experience while in the company of prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Dave McClure at her home here in Kuala Lumpur, in June 2014.

Writing about the alleged sexual assault in her blog on July 3, Yeoh said it happened after a brainstorming session about McClure’s VC company, 500 Startups’ new growth and distribution accelerator Cerebro (later rebranded as Distro Dojo).

Yeoh’s revelation followed allegations of sexual harassment against McClure in the United States, that eventually led to his decision to resign in a blog post entitled “I’m a creep. I’m sorry.”

Yeoh said her reason for revealing the incident is also due to the support that McClure seems to be getting from some people after his blog post, with some saying he had nothing to apologise for as it was “just normal behaviour”.

Despite getting a lot of support for her post, there were many who doubted her version of events and questioned her character.

“We need to change the way society thinks about sexual assault and victims. We must not tolerate the objectifying of women, and support victims irrespective of when they disclose the incidents,” Loh told the daily.

Another NGO suggested the lack of “proper mechanisms and social structures that are gender sensitive” was another reason why there is a reluctance to report sexual assaults.

“When victims make a police report, they are often asked if they ‘did anything’ to invite such assaults.

“Some victims also say that officers taking down their report often don’t believe their accounts,” Betty Yeoh from All Women’s Action Society (Awam) was quoted as saying by Star.

She added that victims felt vulnerable being afraid of the repercussions of making such a report, or how they might be discredited instead, let alone the risks they face to their jobs and loss of respect from family and friends.

“This is especially true for single mothers, people with disabilities or those who are dependent on the perpetrator for their livelihood,” Betty was quoted as saying.

Ex-CEO of MaGIC alleges sexual assault by VC boss