Our DOBBS forums have been abuzz with news of alleged Sexual Predators in our midst.
While these are in the minority, there is absolutely NO PLACE for such people in the medical profession, especially anyone in power like a Head of Department who holds sway over vunerable junior doctors dependent on the HOD to get through one’s training.
It may be disappointing to note that there is currently (as far as we can tell) no specific law against workplace sexual harassment, though there is a law against “outraging one’s modesty”
Section 509 of the Penal Code provides:
“Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any words, makes any sound or gesture or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object shall be seen by such person, or intrudes upon the privacy of such person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years or with fine, or with both”.
There are however some references to Sexual Harassment in the Employment Act:
Section 2 of the Employment Act 1955 defines “sexual harassment” as “any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive or humiliating or is a threat to his well-being arising out of and in the course of his employment”.
Even if it is not a specific crime, victims of sexual harassment may still take action.
1) Employers are compelled to hold an inquiry or be penalised if there are complaints about sexual harassment
It is compulsory for employers to investigate any complains of sexual harassment as highlighted in section 81F of the Employment Act 1955 :
81F. Any employer who fails—
(a) to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment under subsection 81B(1);
(b) to inform the complainant of the refusal and the reasons for the refusal as required under subsection 81B(2);
(c) to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment when directed to do so by the Director General under paragraph 81B(5)(a) or subsection 81D(2); or
(d) to submit a report of inquiry into sexual harassment to the Director General under subsection 81D(2);
commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit.
2. The victim can also make a police report
Action may be taken under section 509 of the penal code if there was “insult the modesty of any person” as mentioned above
3. The victim can sue their sexual harassers
The landmark case of Mohd Ridzwan bin Abdul Razak v Asmah bt Hj Mohd Nor  4 MLJ 282 introduced the tort of sexual harassment into the Malaysian legal system
The court further defined sexual harassment in this case as:
“After taking into consideration the above cases, empirical studies, and our personal researches, the recognizable hallmarks of sexual harassment are that they are unwelcome, taking the form of verbal and even physical, which include sexual innuendos, comments and remarks, suggestive, obscene or insulting sounds, implied sexual threats, leering, oogling, displaying offensive pictures, making obscene gestures etc.
These overtures all share similar traits, in that they all have the air of seediness and cause disturbance or annoyance to the victim (short of a recognized psychiatric illness or physical harm)”
In the meantime, we place our trust in the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Hj Dzulkefly Ahmad to uncover the sexual predator hospital department head, to remove the bad apples who are tarnishing our noble profession
More discussion in DOBBS, Malaysia’s largest online community for medical doctors with over 16,000 participants.