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

PUTRAJAYA: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry 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 tribunal complaint counters have been operational at the ministry’s office in Putrajaya since March 11.

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

“We are in the process of establishing (the e-filing system) to allow victims from other states also to 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 said after the appointment letters for members of the tribunal were handed over on Thursday (March 21).

She said the tribunal provides an alternative channel to civil courts to expedite sexual harassment complaints with minimal cost.

“The establishment of this tribunal is not intended to take over the functions of the court but to provide victims with options 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 said cases brought to the tribunal would be resolved within 60 days from the first hearing date.

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

“According to the act, the complaint form must be served on the respondent within 14 working days, 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 the case hearing. 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.

She added 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