A total 60 countries are on the Out of the Shadow index and the Bangkok-based ECPAT said Malaysia scored 54.5%.
“Within the region of South-East Asia, Malaysia ranked ahead of Cambodia (53.7%) and Indonesia (47.6%), but behind the Philippines (56.7%),” said International head of research and policy Dr Mark Kavenagh when presenting the inaugural findings here yesterday.
He said Malaysia scored 64% on the indicator for stable and safe environment for children, including 68% for having adequate laws against sex crimes such as the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
“In Malaysia, the efforts of civil society in preventing and raising awareness on sexual exploitation of children and related phenomena is praiseworthy,” he said, adding that Malaysia received 100% score under the technology industry engagement indicator.
Although Malaysia had taken positive steps to address the issue, Kavenagh said the survey found that continued conservative approaches and social norms impacted progress, particularly with regards to child marriages.
He noted that the index showed that Malaysia scored zero for Internet protection because service providers here were not bound by law to block, delete or report offensive content involving children.
He said although 17,338 IP addresses had downloaded and uploaded such abuses and over 400 Malaysian websites blocked between 2015 and 2018, no prosecution were secured.
United Kingdom scored the highest in the index with 83.9%, followed by Sweden (76.1%) and Australia (76%), with Pakistan (28.6%), Burkina Faso (28.6%) and Democratic Republic of Congo (26.4%) scoring the lowest.
Meanwhile, Suhakam Child Rights Commissioner Prof Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal said she would raise concerns with the Tourism Ministry over the lack of awareness among the travel and tourism industries here against sex tourism.
She that this was crucial as some 30 million international tourists were expected during Visit Malaysia 2020.
Formerly known as End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, ECPAT International is a global network of organisations comprising 111 members in 97 countries. It is dedicated to ending sexual exploitation of children.