Sexual harassment, social work bills to be tabled by year-end

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun says improvements have been made to the proposed bills on sexual harassment, and recognition of social work.

PUTRAJAYA: The women, family and community development ministry is expected to table the proposed bills on sexual harassment and recognition of social work as a profession by the end of this year

Its minister Rina Harun said improvements have been made to the two bills, which will be handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for its perusal.

“We will try to table both bills during this year’s parliamentary session,” she told reporters at the launch of the special Penjana incentives for target groups – children, single mothers, persons with disabilities and senior citizens – under her ministry.

It was previously reported that the proposed Sexual Harassment Bill would provide a more comprehensive definition of sexual harassment and a more effective mechanism to lodge complaints. It will also propose remedial elements and penalties.

The proposed bill to recognise social work as a profession seeks to establish a Malaysian social work profession council to register social workers and set standards.

Rina also said her ministry needed to refine various policies, including the National Child Policy and National Policy for Senior Citizens.

“The most important aspect of these policies is their implementation. This does not only involve the ministry but also the states because of the existence of different laws at the two levels,” she said.

Work from home

Asked if there were any proposals for women, particularly those with young children, to continue working from home in line with the new normal, Rina said the matter required further discussions involving various parties.

“Right now, working from home is being practised and this means it is something that can be done. However, to implement it (over the long term), further discussions are required because some people can work from home while others have to go to the office,” she said.

Pointing to her ministry, she said out of its workforce of 9,000, about 5,000 from the Social Welfare Department (JKM) have to “go on the ground” to deliver aid to interior areas that lack Internet access.

Viewing the work from home concept practised during the movement control order (MCO) as something positive, she said: “Maybe we can think of a better mechanism, especially for those who have young children who need more attention.”

Tele-counselling

Rina said the special tele-counselling service provided through the Talian Kasih helpline set up by her ministry has been offering psychological support to those affected by the MCO.

“We received over 2,000 calls related to tele-counselling during the MCO period. Some of the callers were feeling stressed as they were not used to staying at home (all the time), more so when they live in a small house with many others,” she said.

The tele-counselling helpline is manned by 538 counsellors who are registered with the Malaysian Board of Counsellors and JKM.

Talian Kasih is open to the public 24 hours a day and those in need of help may contact the hotline at 15999 or WhatsApp at 019-2615999.