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Malaysia’s ‘#MeToo moment’ sparked by report on sexual harassment of journalists

10 19 19

A PIECE which described “sexual harassment culture in Southeast Asia” has sparked debate in Malaysia this week, with journalists, parliamentarians and industry groups calling for legal and cultural change on the issue.

The report entitled “Female journalists, male politicians and the epidemic of sexual harassment in Asean” was published by Asian Correspondent on Monday, revealing testimony of female media workers in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Journalists reported being subjected to lewd comments, sexually explicit messages and unwanted physical contact while engaging with male politicians, which was said to be “sanctioned by the bigwigs of the media industry where senior male editors condone, or in some cases, encourage such behaviour.”

The claims reflect the findings of a survey conducted by the International Federation of Journalists across the Asia Pacific including Malaysia from 2015, which found that almost one in five female journalists had been sexually harassed at work.

SEE ALSO: Female journalists, male politicians and the epidemic of sexual harassment in Asean

Asked about the allegations by Malaysiakini on Tuesday, however, Malaysia’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) President Mohd Taufek Razak said that sexual harassment of female journalists was “not new” and suggested that reporters use “appropriate ways to obtain news stories”.

“Do not wear clothes that are too revealing or sexy, decline interviews at inappropriate places such as nightclubs or a politician’s home,” he said.

“In the context of female journalists, particularly attractive ones, this [sexual harassment] can easily happen if both sides reciprocate.”

Taufek’s comments drew widespread criticism online, including from Malaysian parliamentarian Teresa Kok who called the response........

© Asian Correspondent