KUALA LUMPUR: While those caught having or promoting pornography, including child pornography, can be charged in court, those who view these streamed online get away scot free.
President of Voice of Children Sharmila Sekaran pointed out that the Penal Code had provisions to prosecute those who possessed or promoted child pornography, not for simply viewing it.
“If I view something on a site but don’t download it, I’m not going to be caught for porn possession,” she said.
Sharmila admitted that the pervert, if discovered, might spark heated discussions in the media but it would be “difficult to proffer a charge in court”.
This is one of the “technical” loopholes in the current Child Act that Sharmila is fighting to address.
In January, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said more than 70% of the Child Act needed to be amended.
The Voice of Children has submitted proposed amendments to the ministry, including more transparency and restructuring child protection teams to be more children-focused.
“Our children need to be protected here and now,” said Sharmila, who is a human rights lawyer.
To remedy this issue, one of the proposed amendments was to make all forms of online exploitation of children an offence.
If put in place, said Sharmila, the perpetrator could be charged even if he was not watching child pornography made locally, as long as he was found to have committed the offence in Malaysia.
Sharmila said that the clause was not only limited to sexual exploitation but included any act which left children vulnerable online.
“For example, getting a child to run away from home, to do drugs, to smoke, asking a boy or girl to undress on webcam or showing you their private parts,” she said.
She highlighted there were also criminals specialising in grooming or leading the child to divulge personal information.
When asked if the provision was too broad and could be subjected to abuse, Sharmila said it was vital for the law to address foreseeable and unforseen scenarios.
“People are getting more depraved. We can’t be changing the law to keep up with the perverseness of society,” she said.