60% of sexual crime victims in Malaysia involve minors, police say access to internet is a reason

Better access to the internet and smartphones has led to the rise in sexual crimes that involve children, according to the Sexual, Women, and Child Investigation Division (D11) of the Royal Malaysia Police.

Its principal assistant director Siti Kamsiah Hassan said in 2020, there were a total of 4,274 victims of sexual crimes, including rape, gang rape, incest, unnatural sex, and molesting cases recorded, with 2,567 of them children.

“Last year, there were 4,031 victims of sexual crimes and 2,234 of them were children and for the first four months of this year, a total of 1,201 victims were recorded of which 677 were children.

“With children making up 60 percent of the victims, it is something that should be taken seriously because there are various mental and psychological effects facing children who are victims of sexual crimes,” she said.

According to Siti Kamsiah, children who are the victims of sexual crimes are more prone to experience psychological issues including anxiety, dread, constant rage, and aggressive behaviour.

“These victims are also feared to have poor social functioning, learning problems, depression, involved in drug abuse, become alcoholic, and also re-victimisation (likely to become predators when they grow up or continue to be victims),” she said.

Earlier this month, Malaysia recorded a total of 1,055 child abuse cases for the first half of 2022 (January-June).

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said physical abuse logged the most cases with 578 (54.8%), followed by sexual abuse with 417 cases (39.6%) and emotional abuse with 60 cases (5.6%).

The majority of the abuse was directed towards girls with 706 cases (68%), while 349 cases (32%) involved boys.

Meanwhile, Siti Kamsiah warned that with children having more access to smartphones and the internet, there is concern that they may be exposed to sexual offences that do not entail physical contact, such as pornography.

She said the division had been getting regular reports on sexual crimes involving child pornography.

She linked this, among other things, to the development of information technology, lifestyle, and Internet access, particularly given that youngsters now have easy access to mobile devices and the Internet.

“Online predators will establish a ‘special relationship’ and then ask for nude photos and videos of the victims, these videos and photos will be spread when the victims no longer want to continue the relationship.

“This crime of sharing, grooming, asking for nude and pornographic photos and videos is becoming a trend,” she told Bernama recently.

In 2020, she said the division received 24 reports on sexual crimes which were investigated under Section 509 of the Penal Code, and last year the number increased to 35.

This year, a total of 11 reports were received between January and April, she said.

“To remove a pornographic picture or video of a child that has been spread on the Internet is not an easy task because it involves the cooperation of various agencies, including the International Police (Interpol).

“These pictures and videos will first be entered into the Interpol system and a notification will be issued to the countries that share the system to detect if there is a contagion of the pictures or videos in their country.

“If there is, the pictures need to be taken down,” she added.

According to Siti Kamsiah, the division would also notify the administrators of social media platforms to delete the images and videos.

She said that members of the public might report issues directly to the Internet Watch Foundation, a global non-governmental organisation.

“Parents have to equip themselves with knowledge about safety when socialising or making friends as preparation before they can advise and prevent their children from becoming victims of crime.

“We need to teach children social etiquette, social boundaries, what can be shared, what cannot be shared, such as personal matters, the body. Monitoring by parents is also important and the children themselves must have the self-control to prevent them from becoming victims of crime,” she said.
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