PETALING JAYA: Even as police arrested the man suspected of molesting a young girl at a funfair in Sungai Petani, Kedah, a debate has arisen over whether or not the person who uploaded the video clip of the alleged crime online was justified in doing so.
Child rights lawyer Srividhya Ganapathy said any person failing to give information about sexual offences against children to the authorities is committing an offence under Section 19 of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
According to her, giving information is defined as lodging a report with the officer in charge of the nearest police station.
As such, the person who uploaded the video clip of the crime has committed an offence, she added.
“The person failed to take adequate steps to protect the child at all levels. Firstly, by not reporting the crime; secondly, by uploading the video; and thirdly, by not censoring the child’s face when choosing to upload the clip.
“Showing the child in the video means that she has lost her right to privacy. Even when she grows up, she will be reliving the incident every time someone reminds her of the video or when she finds it online in the future,” she explained.
Srividhya added that those sharing such videos are also committing a crime under Section 15 of the Child Act 2001.
She acknowledged that mandatory reporting in child sexual assault cases can be problematic.
There are issues in criminalising the good intentions of those who may be prepared to help a child, but may not be prepared to be part of the criminal trial process.
“People need to be made aware that the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 makes it mandatory for anyone who has knowledge of an offence being committed against a child to report the case to the police,” she said.
Protect and Save the Children president Datin Che Nariza Hajjar Hashim disagreed with the idea that such viral videos can be used to instigate action against the child molester.
“That can be just an excuse to upload and share child pornography,” she said.
Creativity at Heart co-founder and child therapist Priscilla Ho said people should be more proactive in fighting crimes against children, instead of letting a video go viral.
“What is a person’s intention in uploading that video on social media? You are showing the pain and shame of the child,” she said.
“The police need to track down the perpetrator immediately.
“Why wait for netizens to act? Why not do something about it immediately?”