Sexual harassment cases have been rampant these past few years and while some are vigorously trying to find ways to combat them, others don’t find it necessary to even talk about them.
Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Minister of Communication and Multimedia, recently made the eyebrow-raising statement that “exaggerating” the incidence of sexual harassment in the entertainment business is needless. He believes that industry participants should focus on the “good aspects” of their businesses rather than incidents of malfeasance.
When asked about revelations made by several industry professionals about sexual harassment suffered artists, celebrities and production teams members, Annuar allegedly responded by saying this:
“I don’t think the issue needs to be magnified. Focus on the positives from isolated cases.”
When asked whether by “positive” he meant developing and continuing to improve the quality of the country’s art sector, he merely responded: “Yes”.
Malaysian artists such as Namron and Sharifah Amani have spoken out about sexual harassment issues occurring behind the scenes. Sharifah said that some production staff members are dealing with an issue that has been ‘festering’ in the profession for a long time; and Namron stated that these cases in the entertainment sector affect not just women but also males as well.
According to Mingguan Malaysia, Seniman president Zed Zaidi claimed that his organisation has received no complaints, as many victims are terrified and concerned that something horrible would happen to them if they spoke up.
After receiving backlash to his comments, Annuar has since denied belittling the issue of sexual harassment cases in the entertainment business.
He claimed that his comments during his interview with the reporter had been misconstrued.
He posted a response on his Facebook page – which has since been deleted – explaining his side of the story. The post read:
“I received a WhatsApp (message) from an Utusan reporter (wanting) to interview me. He suggested the topic of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, but I suggested the interview discuss one of my current focuses, which is industry development to help artists. Unfortunately, what came out was the reporter’s interpretation, which did not reflect my stance.”
Regardless of what exactly transpired, the topic of sexual harassment should never be neglected or swept under the rug. A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that 1 in 3 women faces sexual violence globally. Other research has shown that 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual assault.
These are not just numbers – they are people. People who have experienced terrible crimes that caused years of trauma. When politicians make light of the situation, or refuse to talk about it, it makes the situation worse.
Denying that sexual harassment cases occur does not make the problem go away – it only enables dangerous people to get away with it.
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