Youths join forces to combat child sexual abuse

A GROUP of young people from the Monsters Among Us (MAU) Penang chapter showed their concern over child sexual abuse by gathering at the ‘Fountain Garden’ located at the Padang Kota Lama.

They were participating in a campaign that was jointly organised by the MAU Penang chapter and the Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) to send out a strong message against child sexual abuse on Aug 11.

They were later seen walking within the vicinity of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site carrying placards in support of the ‘fight’ against child sexual abuse.

“Much more awareness should be created on this matter, I think it is a ‘curse’ among the communities everywhere in the world.

“Oftentimes, the problem also lies within the society itself due to a lack of understanding about the issue.

“According to the statistics from Australia, 98% of child sexual abuse reports were found to be true with only 30% of the adults believing the complaints made by the children,” said state executive councillor in charge of Works, Utilities and Flood Mitigation Zairil Khir Johari at the gathering whilst lending his support to the group’s campaign.

Zairl added that parents usually dismiss the complaints received from their children most probably due to their (parents’) ignorance.

“Many predators are now using social media as a means to commit sexual abuse on children. This is a threat that should not be taken lightly here in Malaysia.

“Whether you believe it or not, Malaysia recorded the highest number of IP addresses uploading and downloading photographs and visuals of child pornography in Southeast Asia which is a shame for our society,” added Zairil.

The Tanjung Bungah assemblyman stated that he had earlier debated on issues concerning child sexual abuse when he was a parliamentarian and advocated for a child sexual abuse registry in Malaysia.

“I am glad that many changes happened since, the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 was tabled and passed at Parliament.

“It was a unanimous decision and I was there to vote as well, and the new legislation means child sexual abuse will be taken seriously with heavier punishment.

“More importantly, child pornography was finally defined to be an offence by itself, previously it was treated by the penal code the same as pornography and was not distinguished. But it was wrong as child pornography is totally on a different scale,” he said.

According to Zairil, this year the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development has announced that a sexual abuse registry is now being put in place.

“With this registry, the employers who wish to hire people to work in an environment involving children such as kindergarten can now check with the Social Welfare Department to ensure that the candidate has a clean record.

“Previously, we had no way of tracking them and thanks to the government for making this a reality. I believe to date, there are already 3,000 offenders in the registry,” he said.

Zairil also commended the state government’s effort in coming up with the ‘Body Safety Education’ e-book launched by state executive councillor for Women and Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs Chong Eng not long ago.

“The e-book, which can be downloaded for free comes in four languages (English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Mandarin), teaches children and parents on the ways to recognise and prevent child sexual abuse.

“Sometimes we do not know how to deal with issues concerning child sexual abuse as we do not have much awareness on the matter. Hence, the book will give us a clearer picture on what to be done,” he added.

Story by Tanushalini Moroter
Pix by Nur Afiqah Zainudi