Government submits sexual harassment bill to Majlis

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam has submitted a bill to parliament on behalf of the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik aiming to define and outlaw sexual harassment across Maldivian society.

The decision forms part of a wider government strategy to submit twelve separate bills to the Majlis after an amendment to parliament regulations was approved in October.  The amendment to the People’s Majlis’ Rules of Procedure enabled the current government to submit bills to the legislature despite President Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) having no elected representatives in parliament.

DRP MP Rozaina Adam was not responding to calls at time of press.

The government has stated that the objective of the sexual harassment bill is to ensure gender discrimination is made illegal at workplaces, educational institutes, and other service providers such as hospitals.

The bill defines sexual harassment as “any sexual act committed against, or towards, a person without their consent”.  It states that a sexual act is defined as words which are spoken, or written, a sound that is made, a picture or a drawing that is shown, a physical action or gesture that is made, or any other action which could be perceived, believed or known by the recipient to be done with a sexual intention.

Details are also included on the specific actions by employers, employees and service providers which would be outlawed should the bill be passed.

Employers are also required to refrain from implying through actions or words that acceptance of sexual advances is a guarantee of securing advancement at work or additional opportunities.

The bill also governs institutions mandated with taking care of persons, including children, the elderly and persons with special needs. The bill specifically prohibits sexual harassment against any persons under the care of such institutions.

As per the bill, each organisation must have a committee mandated with oversight of the issue of sexual harassment.  The committee should consist of ten members, of which the majority is to be female. The bill also defines the procedures the committee must follow when handling complaints.

The bill is yet to be scheduled for debate on the parliament floor and comes after CSC President Mohamed Fahmy was voted out of his post on November 20, 2012 under allegations of sexual harassment against an employee.

The Supreme Court has since ordered the parliament to halt appointing a new member to his post, until the court comes to a ruling on whether Fahmy’s rights had been infringed upon through his dismissal.

Meanwhile, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yaamin has submitted a motion to Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee, asking it to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against a member of the Elections Commission.

The full bill submitted to the Majlis can be read here.  (Dhivehi)


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