Victims Have Obligation to Report Harassers?

Selangor Community Awareness Association member and lawyer Honey Tan said sexual harassment on public transportation in Malaysia is common (as it is in many other countries) and she said many women don’t report it.

“‘Even if you don’t think the police can solve the case, the statistics are important to justify the police’s request for more manpower [sic]. Making a police report is not just your right, but your obligation,’ she said.”

There are tons of reasons why victims/survivors don’t report incidents of street harassment & assault, like not having enough time/energy, fear of being blamed for harassment/assault, fear of wasting time because complaint won’t be taken seriously, fear of retaliation from harasser, an inability to identify the harasser, etc. So saying it’s their obligation to report it may be a bit naive.

On the other hand, I do think that the problem of gender-based public harassment and assault by strangers won’t be taken seriously by law and policy makers unless the numbers show there’s a problem. The numbers won’t show there’s a problem if the crimes are vastly under reported (which they are).

So what about the creation of a lesser form/complaint one could fill out (anonymously and/or with the ability to do it online) if one doesn’t necessarily want to press charges but just wants to help show the real numbers of harassers? Does anyone know if such a form/system exists? Would there be too much room for false reporting? (Though what would the incentive be for false reporting if its purpose is to function as a way to gather data, not to prosecute the harasser?)

Otherwise, it seems like conducting surveys are the only way real harassment numbers can be shown, but that method isn’t perfect either.


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