Malaysian children and child abuseBy Asia Sentinel Jan 25, 2011 7:43PM UTC
Lax pedophilia enforcement, delays in court cases leave too many children scarred, writes Asia Sentinel’s Mariam Mokhtar
In a country where Malay/Muslim children can be married off by the state once they reach puberty, the greater evil is the undercurrent of little-known but ugly acts committed against children, and that sex offenders largely get off lightly, with the courts denying the children any form of justice.
There are concerns that a generation of sexually abused children who are vulnerable and suffer from serious, long-term psychological trauma is being left behind. After enduring years of sexual abuse by relatives or people who are known to the family, only a small percentage of victims eventually report abuse.
Many are threatened with physical harm by the perpetrators or are afraid of being shunned by their families and the community.
Sadly, many victims and their families have found, in the end, it is the judge, the courts and the Director of Public Prosecutions who are guilty of delaying sentencing or for handing down non-deterrent sentences. Thus, having endured sexual abuse, they find that they go through yet more humiliation and abuse from agents of the state.
The statistics are notoriously unreliable. According to a UNICEF investigation, only 10 percent of cases are likely to be reported as most of the victims and their families were ashamed or fearful. It is also reported by NGOs that most victims know the people abusing them – grandfathers, fathers, stepfathers, relatives, tuition teachers, family friends and neighbors, so the abuser appears normal to the child. Malaysian police statistics for 2006, the last year available, show that 89 percent of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse were people known to the victims and that 53 percent of these perpetrators were parents.