KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Malaysia has been ranked 23rd out of 60 countries in the Out of The Shadows Index which examines how countries are responding to the threat of child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).
The report conducted by Ignite Philanthropy and Economist Impact shows that among Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia with a total score of 56.9 fell behind Indonesia (68.1), Thailand (58.7), Philippines (58.4), and Vietnam (58.4) but pulled ahead of Cambodia (50).
The second edition of the index evaluated two different pillars — prevention which Malaysia scored 51.8 out of 100, and response (61.9) — that predominantly looks at legislation, policies and programmes of a country and its effectiveness in prevention measures.
The private sector in Malaysia scored a total of 25 out of 100, which measures how the private sector engages with children around data protection-related issues, child labour and the role of internet service providers in preventing the spread of child abuse materials online.
The report also highlighted that Malaysia has adequate laws against offences such as child rape, child trafficking, online grooming, inappropriate touching, producing child pornography, and procuring children for sexual activities.
However, the report showed that Malaysia lack laws against offences such as coercing, forcing, or threatening minors, sexual activities with vulnerable children or minors with disabilities, and online grooming without an intention to meet the child.
Only scoring a measly 25 out of 100, there is a lack of confidence in the private sector to implement and provide protection for children.
According to the landmark global assessment, the appalling score for the private sector was due to many factors including a lack of transparency in supply chains, a lack of mandatory background checks for previous CSEA convictions, and a complete lack of response from internet service providers to report on any criminal activity.
In the efforts of preventing reoffending by adult offenders, the report praised Malaysia's efforts in its counseling programmes established across the prison system nationwide that began back in 2006.
“Working on prevention programmes that address community risks can serve as a deterrent and reduce reoffending. This is an essential building block in effective prevention strategies,” it said in the statement.
Similarly, the report also praised Malaysia for its efforts to provide a safer space for children to testify against perpetrators of sexual violence via the Special Criminal Courts on Sexual Crimes against Children.
Don Cipriani, director of Ignite Philanthropy, said that the prevalence and insidious nature of child sexual abuse and exploitation are alarming and require concerted effort and attention.
“Many of the existing policies and responses continue to fall short and allow CSEA cases to remain hidden. However, with this report, we’re aiming to bring greater attention to CSEA and hold policymakers accountable to create a safer world for every child, everywhere,” he said in a statement.
The United Kingdom, France and Sweden made it to the top three ranking in the index for analysing child abuse prevention and response policies.