PETALING JAYA: A women’s rights activist has criticised Universiti Malaya’s handling of a sexual harassment case in which the alleged victim is one of its students.
Lilian Kok of the All Women’s Action Society said the case demonstrated how opaque the university’s Integrity Unit was.
Kok said this showed that the university had not lived up to its fame of being one of the first universities to implement a code of conduct aimed at preventing sexual harassment.
She pointed out that under the university’s Code of Practice on the Prevention and Handling of Sexual Harassment, the results of investigations should be disclosed to both parties.
“However, as we can see from this case, having a comprehensive process is not enough,” she told FMT. “There should be accountability and transparency in order to institutionalise a holistic sexual harassment preventive measure.”
Kok called for the enactment of a law that would enable victims of sexual harassment to get access to avenues for redress.
A recent report said the third-year student had lodged a police report after feeling dissatisfied with the response she had received from the Universiti Malaya Integrity Unit.
She claimed she was sexually harassed by a senior lecturer in his office on June 3 last year.
The university’s vice-chancellor released a statement saying investigations were conducted as soon as the complaint was received. He said the perpetrator had been punished under the rules of the integrity code.
But Kok said the university should be accountable for its failure to maintain a safe environment for students.
She said students should not be afraid of filing complaints.
“Your reported case will reflect on the severity of sexual harassment in our culture.
“Twenty-eight percent of Malaysians have experienced sexual harassment, a fifth of which occurred in schools or universities.
“Universities should also be more aware of the unavoidable power dynamics in the environment and take decisive and transparent measures to safeguard the rights of the students.”
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