Incidents of female tourist guides being harassed, molested and even raped by their male roommates were not new, said Malaysian Women Tourist Guide Association vice-president Ong Swee Ching.
However, victims chose to remain quiet, fearing they would lose their jobs. The few that dared bring up the issue, including Ong, were boycotted by industry players.
“Our initiative to set up the Malaysian Women Tourist Guide Association in 2006 was also met with resistance. I was not given any jobs, until I moved to a new company,” she said.
Relating her own experience, Ong said a male colleague, whom she was forced to share a room with, had pestered her for sex. She told him off and “he did not disturb me any more because I was tough.”
Ong thanked the new Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen for insisting on this new ruling.
Ng had met with tourist guides, tour operators and hoteliers at her office here yesterday. She warned that any tour companies found to have forced their female workers to share rooms with the men would have their licences revoked.
“In 2006, we tried the gentle way. We warned the companies, but nothing was done. The action is to ensure the safety of the women, who make up more than one-third of the total number of tourist guides in Malaysia,’’ she told reporters.
Dr Ng also proposed that new hotels be equipped with cost-effective rooms or dormitories for tourist guides and their co-workers, adding she would bring this up in the Cabinet meeting.
Tourist guide Grace Tan had been sharing rooms with the men since she joined the industry 23 years ago. She was lucky her younger brother was her assistant, and he would always be in the same room with her and the other male colleagues.
“Many tourist guides who have resigned out of frustration have expressed their hope to return to the industry now,” she said.
Source : STAR
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