KUALA LUMPUR: More than 5,000 children were sexually abused over the last five years, which is why legislation like the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 is needed.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim (pix) said the rise in child sexual abuse cases was alarming, particularly those committed by paedophiles who preyed on the young.
“There has been a rise in sex abuse against children in the last five years, with the only exception being a slight drop in 2014 and 2015.
“During this period, a total 5,052 cases of child sexual abuse were reported and we view this as a serious issue,” she said when answering a question by Datuk Noraini Ahmad (BN-Parit Sulong) in Parliament on Monday.
Rohani said that between 70% and 80% of offenders were known to the victims and typically were parents, siblings, child minders, relatives or neighbours.
“We need new laws to define sexual crimes against children to ensure that those who commit these despicable acts are punished,” she said, calling on lawmakers to vote in favour of the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 that is being debated and expected to be passed in Parliament later Monday.
“Now is the best time to give your views if you feel there is a need to correct any weaknesses to ensure that our children are better protected,” she added.
Apart from the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017, Rohani said that two other bills would be also tabled Monday to synchronise laws on crimes against children.
One would be a bill to amend Section 377CA of the Penal Code to include the insertion of any object or any part of the body into a victim as sexual assault.
The second would be to amend Section 2 of Domestic Violence Act to better protect spouses, ex-spouses, children, or members of the family against insults on their modesty.
The new law would also empower a social welfare officer to issue an Emergency Protection Order to prevent possible physical injury to victims, Rohani said.
“Attacks usually happen at home during the weekends when the courts are not operating, and thus unable to issue a protection order.
“The new law will allow a seven-day emergency protection order to be issued by a welfare officer,” she added.
Rohani said she agreed with Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) that many cases of sexual abuse against children go unreported because they are committed by those whom the victims trusted.
“That is why we are making it an offence for those who are aware of sexual abuse but do not report it,” she added.