Universiti Malaya Caught Up in Sexual Harassment Case

Universiti Malaya has recently come under fire for their handling of an alleged sexual harassment case towards one of its students.

Back in July, a 23-year-old, third year student lodged a police report after feeling unjustified with the response she had received from the Universiti Malaya Integrity Unit.

The student claimed she was sexually harassed by a senior lecturer in his office on June 3rd last year. The misconduct included physically touching of the hips while asking disturbing personal questions.

The student has since been told that the associate professor whom she accused and is already retired in June, will not face any criminal action as authorities won’t be pressing further charges.

Brickfields police chief Zairulnizam Mohd Zainuddin

“After studying the statements given in the case, the DPP decided there were no charges against the suspect, taking into account the fact that Universiti Malaya had taken internal action against the suspect,” Brickfields police chief Zairulnizam Mohd Zainuddin said.

He also added that it was the deputy public prosecutor’s (DPP) decision not to file any charges. It was also the Attorney-General’s Chambers decision to drop the case.

Universiti Malaya Vice Chancellor, Abdul Rahim Hashim

The university’s vice chancellor, Abdul Rahim Hashim, also released a statement stating that investigations were conducted as soon as the complaint was received. He said that the perpetrator had been punished under the rules of the integrity code.

A student group at the university, University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY), has called for the resignation of said vice chancellor for allegedly being “weak, vain and incompetent”.

Such demands came after he said that while management has taken action against the disgraced lecturer, he cannot divulge information regarding the punishment.

The student group also claimed that despite allegations of the lecturer preying on several other students, management has only decided to demote the lecturer.

The university has also been accused of not being transparent in the case, hence, not living up to its code of conducts.

Lilian Kok of the All Women’s Action Society stated that under the university’s Code of practice on the Prevention and Handling of Sexual Harassment, results of the investigations should be disclosed to both parties.

“However, as we can see from this case, having a comprehensive process is not enough,” she told in an interview with FMT. 

“There should be accountability and transparency in order to institutionalise a holistic sexual harassment preventive measure.

“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.”

According to Kok, 28% of Malaysians experienced sexual harassment, a fifth of those occurred in educational institutes.

“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.” Kok said.

A change.org petition has also started circling around social media seeking to prosecute the lecturer, it has since gathered 5,500 signatures.

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