KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Advocacy group All Women’s Action Society (Awam) today commended the government for its commitment in Budget 2023 to establishing the Tribunal for Anti-Sexual Harassment by early next year.

The group’s information and communications officer, Jernell Tan Chia Ee, also lauded the government’s commitment to spreading awareness about sexual harassment and urged the government to implement programmes towards that end within a similar timeline.

“However, the other three things were, to our disappointment, not within Budget 2023,” she said in a statement.

“We very much hoped to see a budget allocation made for the implementation and institutionalisation of gender sensitivity training for various stakeholders within their respective institutions, specifically frontliners within the police force, healthcare frontliners working within the One Stop Crisis Centre, as well as teachers and school counsellors in schools,” she added.

Furthermore, Tan said that a Budget allocation was crucial for data collection and analysis on the effectiveness of curriculum content in Reproductive Health and Social Education (PEERS), amid concerning incidents sexual harassment and violence against children.

“Whilst Malaysia has been implementing PEERS since 1989 in schools, teachers have faced many challenges in delivering this subject such as lack of resources and training and stigma, and there is limited data on the effectiveness of PEERS in enhancing the awareness of children about sex, relationships and consent,” she said.

She also urged the government to provide funds for studies on period poverty, in order to better develop initiatives to address the struggle of women and girls from underprivileged communities who lack access to menstrual products, as well as related infrastructure and education.

In Budget 2022, RM10 million was allocated for free hygiene kits to 130,000 female adolescents from the B40 community.

“The extent to which this initiative addresses affordability of pads for these female adolescents is unknown.

“Neither do we know how these 130,000 female adolescents were identified for this initiative this year, and in what way this initiative addresses the issue of period poverty at the national level,” said Tan.