In view of the rising trend of women in the workforce in Malaysia, where almost half of them were economically active by the year 2000, considerable attention from management and policymakers on sexual harassment issues is vital.
At the same time, more women are entering occupations traditionally regarded as male oriented, such as engineering, medicine, management, etc. As such, workers are increasingly exposed to the likelihood of sexual harassment in their workplace.
Statistics and research show that sexual harassment and domestic abuse primarily affects women, but men can also be subjected to it. A 2019 YouGov Omnibus survey of more than 1,000 respondents found 36% of Malaysian women and 17% of Malaysian men have experienced sexual harassment. While the rate of reports are generally low, men are even less likely to report on incidents of sexual harassment (44%) compared to women (57%). The biggest reasons why survivors do not make a report is due to embarrassment (54%) and the feeling that no one will do anything about the problem (38%).
The police recorded 420 male victims of physical sexual assault and 24 male victims of non-physical sexual assault between 2018 to 2020. There were also 50 male victims in cases relating to the outraging of modesty. In reality, these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg as many survivors fear coming forward.
The frequency of occurrences of such incidences has been found to range between 35% and 53% by available local studies (Ng, Zanariah, & Maria, 2003; Marican, 1999; Muzaffar, 1999). The seriousness of the problem has prompted the Malaysian government to officially launch the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in 1999.