Monday, December 10, 2018

Teacher Noorfadilla’s Battle Against Pregnancy Discrimination - She won but would not if she was a private sector employee?

But women can still be discriminated if they are employed by the private sector. Currently, the Federal Conbstitution places an obligation not to discriminate based on gender, religion, race, descent, place of birth only on public authority. The case of teacher Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin which is highlighted in the Media Statement by WAO, was a case of a teacher employed by the government.
The obligation not to discriminate must be placed on all employers, including the private sector  

Article 8(2) Federal Constitution - 'Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority...'

Pakatan Harapan government must  makes sure that ALL EMPLOYERS are not allowed to discriminate based on religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender. There is also provision in Employment Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of whether one is a migrant(foreign) worker or Malaysian citizen... so, why not make sure that there is no more discrimination based on religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender..

Abolish short-term contracts - for its very existence allows for discrimination especially against women...


Press Release – For Immediate Publication
Kuala Lumpur, 7 December 2018

Teacher Noorfadilla’s Battle Against Pregnancy Discrimination Recognised with Human Rights Award
Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin and her team, who fought pregnancy discrimination and won a landmark court case, jointly-won the SUARAM Human Rights Award 2018 on Tuesday.

The award recognises their pathbreaking ten-year pursuit of justice, which created legal precedents enabling other Malaysians to seek redress for pregnancy discrimination and breach of constitutional rights.

“The award by SUARAM was the first ever official recognition given to the whole legal team. I'm thrilled that the whole team was nominated for the award,” says Noorfadilla.

“This case was made possible with the help of my lawyers and various groups. In medieval times, there were warriors or knights. Today, lawyers are knights in shining armour, fighting against injustice and oppression.”

In 2009, the Hulu Langat Education District revoked Noorfadilla’s job offer as a temporary teacher after she became pregnant.

With the support of lawyers Honey Tan, Edmund Bon, Joachim Xavier, Chen Yen Hui, Andrew Yong and Arina Ong, Noorfadilla sued the government.

In a landmark 2011 judgement, the High Court ruled that revoking a job offer due to pregnancy is gender discrimination and that the government had violated Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which protects against gender discrimination.

In 2016, the Court of Appeals affirmed that pregnancy discrimination is a breach of constitutional rights and individuals can claim damages for breach of constitutional rights.

Finally, in 2018, the Federal Court awarded RM40,000 in damages to Noorfadilla.

“The Noorfadilla case is important because the court adopted the CEDAW definition of discrimination against women. This means that there cannot be direct or indirect discrimination against women,” says lawyer Honey Tan.

“The CEDAW definition also recognises that discrimination can be intersectional. For example, a woman may be discriminated on the grounds of her gender, race or marital statuses simultaneously.”

“Our next big challenge is to use the due diligence principle in CEDAW to hold non-state actors such as private companies accountable for gender discrimination.”

“The case was to test the extent Malaysia was prepared to accept the CEDAW principles in pregnancy discrimination in the absence of a gender equality law,” adds lawyer Edmund Bon.

“The courts have pulled through, and we are now hoping the Government will enact a Gender Equality Act that domesticates all of CEDAW to make it even more enforceable.”

CEDAW is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Noorfadilla also received support from Y.B. Rodziah Ismail and Y.B. Zuraida Kamaruddin, who were at that time an EXCO member of the Selangor state government and the PKR Women’s chief respectively, as well as Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) and the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality.

Congratulating Noorfadillla and her team on their award, WAO said that Noorfadilla’s case represents hope and progress for women in Malaysia.

“This groundbreaking case has opened up new avenues for women to seek justice and claim their right to non-discrimination,” says Sumitra Visvanathan, Executive Director of WAO.

“Moving forward, we urge the government to enact a Gender Equality Act to comprehensively protect against gender discrimination — and to accelerate the fulfillment of gender equality in Malaysia.”

In addition to Noorfadilla and her case team, the other recipient of the SUARAM Human Rights Award was the National Union of Workers in Hospital Support and Allied Services.

The SUARAM Human Rights Award recognises contributions to human rights and the role of communities across the country in fulfilling the aspiration for a democratic Malaysia.


Noorfadillla and her team at the SUARAM Human Rights Award 2018 

[From left: Yu Ren Chung (Advocacy Manager of WAO), Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin, Honey Tan (lawyer), Joachim Xavier (lawyer), Mohd Izwan Zakaria (husband of Noorfadilla) ]

Attached are also the press statements in BM and English. 

For more information, kindly contact Tan Heang-Lee at 016 665 3237 or 

Thank you. 

Warm regards,
Heang Lee

Tan Heang-Lee
Advocacy and Communications Officer
Women's Aid Organisation

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