PUTRAJAYA, Jan 19 – Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Monday emphasised that the use of force or violence in any way against women was unacceptable. He said violent attacks on women were regarded as harsh, more so when it happened in the workplace.
“We have to be concerted in being zero-tolerant with regard to violence against women. Education and awareness should begin from the men themselves. “We cannot regard women as the cause of violence because much of the cause of violence is the weakness of the men themselves,” Ahmad Shabery told reporters after addressing staff of the ministry at a special gathering in Putrajaya.
The gathering of all ministry staff was held following the assault of a female staff of the ministry by a male maintenance worker while she was engaged in overtime work at her office in Putrajaya, last Friday. The attack on the 30-year-old woman got the attention of various parties after a photograph of her covered in blood and asking for help was circulated on the Internet.
Ahmad Shabery emphasised the need to ensure tighter security in the ministry and said the standard operating procedure (SOP) would be reviewed. “The ministry needs its own SOP to meet the demand for respect for women. The SOP has to be refined not just in the case of violence, but should encompass all interests including management of time for the lights to be switched off, not working alone and so on,” he said.
He said the improvement of the SOP was important to ensure that women employees felt safe when at work, especially when doing overtime work. “The ministry will look at all aspects and will not take the easy way out, such as not having employees working during certain hours. That is not the best solution. This will not be an issue if we have a proper SOP,” he said.
Ahmad Shabery said the responsibility of showing respect for and protecting women did not rest with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry alone but should be made the agenda of all ministries. “We have to hold a comprehensive campaign on the matter at the levels of the office and ministry because the ministry is regarded as the agent of mindset change and carries a social responsibility to develop the capacity of women without prejudice,” he said.
Asked about the measures the ministry would adopt, he said that besides such special gatherings, instructions had been given for staff not to work alone and drug screening would be conducted on employees, including maintenance workers. Commenting on the suspect in the assault case, he said the man in his 30s was outsourced from the Works Ministry for the maintenance division of his ministry.
On the action against the suspect, Ahmad Shabery said that though he was not the one who could determine that, he hoped that the maximum sentence would be meted out to serve as a deterrent. The suspect is being remanded for seven days and is being investigated for having caused grievous hurt.