IF you produce, save, distribute, search or access child sexual abuse content, also sometimes known as child pornography, the police will trace you and hunt you down.
That is the warning given by Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) Assistant Direct Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan.
“Many of the suspects we arrested said they did not know it is an offence. They said they were just looking at child pornography in their private space. To them, they did not engage in physical contact with the child, so they do not see it as a crime, ” says Siti Kamsiah, who heads D11, the special police unit that handles cases involving women, children and sexual crimes.
More worryingly, she adds, many in Malaysia have this wrong perception.
“Many members of the public do not feel that a crime is committed if there is no physical contact (with a child). This is why we need to inform and educate the public that accessing child pornography is a serious crime.”
Viewers directly support and create demand for child sexual abuse content whenever they search for the material. If there is demand, there likewise will be criminals producing it in the dark web to fulfill that market, Siti Kamsiah explains.
Those who access and share child sexual abuse content might not meet the victims, but the victims are there and they are real.
“It is an offence – producing it, sharing, exchanging, buying, selling, possessing or accessing the material. If you access it, the police can detect and trace you. Don’t be surprised if we suddenly appear at your house, ” says Siti Kamsiah.
According to data furnished by Dutch police based in Malaysia in 2015, our country has the highest number of IP addresses uploading and downloading photographs and visuals of child sexual abuse content in South-East Asia.
In response to the increasing number of sexual predators targeting children online, a special D11 taskforce was established in 2018 with the technological knowhow to trace suspects’ IP addresses. The taskforce works hand in hand with Interpol and overseas police to identify and track users and syndicates operating across borders.
From January to September of this year, the police recorded 31 cases related to child sexual abuse content.
Selangor (seven) and Kuala Lumpur (five) were the states with the highest number of cases. Nationwide, six cases involved producing child sexual abuse content, 13 cases involved distribution and 12 cases were for accessing the material.
In Malaysia, a child is defined as persons below the age of 18 and is protected by the Child Act 2001 and the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017. The term “child pornography” in the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 refers to visual, audio and/or written representation of a child engaged in sexually explicit content.
Section 4 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 states that the law also includes persons portraying to be a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and realistic images of the act. Sexual grooming, or communicating with a child in a sexual way, is also an offence that carries a punishment of a maximum five years and whipping.
Those convicted of producing child sexual abuse content face a maximum 30 years’ jail. For preparing to produce child pornography, they face a maximum 10 years’ jail. Those who seek, obtain, sell or distribute the material face a maximum 15 years. The punishment for knowingly accessing child pornography is a maximum five years jail.
Those found guilty of the offences may also face whipping.
Siti Kamsiah explains that the police can only digitally trace users accessing child sexual abuse material.
“If we can trace them, it means they have accessed child pornography. And in most cases when we arrive at the places we are alerted to, we have found this material in their computers. In many cases, the photos and videos downloaded are of foreign children, ” she says.
In fact, under the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017, even if a suspect has committed the crime overseas, the Malaysian police can still carry out investigations and arrest the suspect as long as they are Malaysian citizens.
From 2017 to March 2019, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry included 3,000 names into its Child Sexual Offender registry which can be accessed at any state or district Welfare Department office.
In one of the most disturbing cases of child sexual offences, Malaysian student Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, then 23 and studying at Imperial College London under a Mara scholarship, was convicted in the United Kingdom in 2015 for possessing more than 30,000 child pornography videos and images. British media reported that many of the files were classified as Category A, meaning they depicted the most extreme form of abuse.
Nur Fitri served a nine-month jail sentence before returning to Malaysia where he enrolled for a PhD at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s School of Mathematical Science.
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