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09 Jun 2017

new straits times 9.6.2017

IT was her first time working with a foreign embassy here, but her excitement soon faded.

Almost immediately after she joined the embassy as a secretary last year, a woman in her 40s who wished to be known only as Ain, received unwanted attention from the Middle Eastern country’s ambassador.

She said the ambassador had initially flirted with her, but she thought nothing of it.

However, in June last year, after three months on the job, the sexual harassment began.

Ain claimed that the ambassador began touching her hands, then touching her breasts “accidentally” and pressuring her into becoming his mistress.

She rejected his advances, but things got worse.

“One day, I had to serve tea, but while I was making the drinks, he grabbed me.

“I was shocked… I fought back, but he became more aggressive. He pushed me until I fell on the floor and started molesting me.”

Ain said she tried to scream, but to no avail.

The sexual harassment continued to the point where the man allegedly flashed his private parts at her, and locked his office every time she walked in and molested her.

Ain told her colleagues about the matter, but found out that every woman at the embassy, regardless of their age and rank, had been sexually abused by the same person.

She went to the social security Organisation, but officers there said they could not do anything because it involved a foreign mission.

“The abuse happened on a daily basis… i just wanted to work, but ended up being treated this way. There is no respect for women, for local staff.

 “I want justice as my rights as a women were violated both morally and emotionally.”

 Ain said she was sacked, presumably because she rejected the ambassador’s advances.

  She said this at a press conference organised by the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) to highlight complaints of sexual harassment against Malaysia staff in foreign embassies.

  Also present was a women who wished to be identified only as Tini, 59. she said she had worked in eight foreign missions in 17 years and was sexually harassed in four of them. In all four cases, she had her services terminated because she would not give in to the advances.

  “From what i gathered, if we do not give them what they want, they would terminate our services immediately,”.

  In one case, she was molested by an officer at an embassy, but managed to fight back. The ambassador found out about the abuse and told her to file a report. However, she was once again fired.

  “They would always protect their people and treat locals working for the embassy like slaves,” Tini said.

  Both women urged the Foreign Ministry to come up with a solutions to protect the rights of Malaysian staff in foreign missions.

  Together with another women, the duo lodged police report on Wednesday.

  PPIM chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said he was shocked upon receiving reports lodged with the association.

  “We would think ambassadors and embassy officers would be respected men with polished characters and distinguished behaviour, but this is happening instead.

  “We have notified the federal police, but they can do anything because these people are protected (by diplomatic immunity).

  “Even though they have immunity, action should be taken by Wisma Putra or the United Nations to avoid recurrences… They must face the law.”

  The association’s legal bureau chief, Hishamuddin Hashim, said the case involved people with immunities who cannot be charged under Malaysian law.

  PPIM urged people who had encountered such abuse to come forward and relay the matter to Wisma Putra.