The establishment of a special court to handle cases of child sexual crime is proof of the government’s effort to address the problem and provide a holistic protection for children.
Prime Minister Najib Razak is scheduled to open the court at the federal government’s administrative centre in Putrajaya this Thursday.
The setting up of the court is in tandem with the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 that was passed by Parliament last April.
Statistics by the Social Welfare Department showed that 5,779 cases of sexual abuse on children were recorded from 2010 until 2015 with an average of 963 cases a year, while the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) recorded 2,759 rape cases, incest (412 cases), molest (1,423 cases) and unnatural sex (422 cases) between 2015 and 2016 involving victims aged 18 and below.
Prior to this, there was an outcry in the country following revelations that British paedophile Richard Huckle had admitted to multiple charges of molesting Malaysian children.
The British freelance photographer had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a London court for abusing 23 Malaysian and Cambodian babies and children over almost a decade
The setting up of the special court brings relief to many quarters who had been calling for effective enforcement against child perpetrators and and protection against victims of child sexual crimes.
National Council of Women’s Organisations Malaysia (NCWO) president Prof Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said as an organisation involved in the special task force, NCWO’s main hope was to see more parents and guardians of child sexual crime victims to fight for their children’s justice.
“Prior to this, they may think that the case will take a long time, that could extend to years, and even the victims have grown up and feel ashamed, but with the setting up of the special court, we hope the prosecution prosecution process will run effectively, fast and the criminal sentenced promptly,” she said when contacted by Bernama.
Sharifah Hapsah said NCWO hoped that all cases brought to the court could be disposed off within a year or less to instill confidence in parents and guardian that the judicial institution was committed to protect their children.
Meanwhile, a senior lecturer at the Department of Psychology, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, Dr Nazariah Sharie Janon, said the government’s commitment in the matter required cooperation from the society.
“The government has provided a platform to punish the child perpetrators. The role of the society is to channel information on such cases. They should not close their eyes to child sexual crime,” she said.
Law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abd Aziz said public awareness and willingness to provide evidence in child sexual crime cases is crucial to ensure the government’s mission to address sexual abuse against children could be realised to the maximum. – Bernama