INTERACTIVE: Victims urged to report sex crimes

Bukit Aman D11 principal assistant director ACP Siti Kamsiah Hassan advised victims against sharing details of sexual abuse online. NORAFIFI EHSAN / The Star

PETALING JAYA: Victims of sexual harassment or other sex crimes should report to the police instead of sharing their experiences on social media, said Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division Assistant Direct Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan.

Noting that it had become a “culture” for the sufferer to relay their stories online amid the #MeToo movement, she cautioned that these online revelations could jeopardise police investigations or affect the emotional state of the victims even more.

“This is now a 'budaya' (culture). Everyone wants things online and they want to be quick.

“But sexual crime investigations are sensitive; it's sensitive from the psychological state of the victim and the type of evidence.”

READ ALSO: INTERACTIVE: Malaysian women speak up against sexual predators

With victims already traumatised by their experience, going on social media to expose the attack could lead to a debate online.

“People online will say all sorts of things and sometimes the victim themselves will be confused. Even to the point of them questioning their own actions.

“This disrupts investigations.”

She urged victims to think twice before going online with the details.

"In my opinion, victims reveal their incidences (online) because they want action to be taken. But they do so without realising the effect it could have on them.”

ACP Siti Kamsiah said there was a possibility that statements which victims posted on social media did not fully matched what the victims subsequently told police.

"When that happens, this makes our investigation harder. Their statements do not tally and the facts are not the same anymore.”

Sexual crime cases reported from January to June this year showed that there were 619 cases involving rape, followed by 437 cases of sexual offences against children, molest (345), sexual harassment (136), incest (117) and unnatural sex (100).

Out of these six categories, those involving sexual harassment and sexual offences against children had the highest number of charges at 65% and 47%, respectively.

ACP Siti Kamsiah noted that sexual crime incidents shared online could help create awareness but not if it was done excessively.

"If the revelation is just about the modus operandi (of attackers) and to raise awareness, then that is not a problem to me.

“But when it is excessive it can cause public unease.”

She advised Malaysians to be smart when posting online.

“If the purpose is to investigate, social media can't investigate cases."

The police, she said, had the power to investigate.“Even without an official complaint we can still investigate but it is advised to inform the police," she added.

While awareness helps people identify the signs of sexual misconduct and abuse, ACP Siti Kamsiah said there was a limit on what could be posted online.

She said that even if the incident happened a long time ago, victims should still come forward to make a report.

A police report can also be made by an individual on behalf of the victim.

"It doesn't matter when it happened. Of course, it is best to report as soon as possible after the incident happened because these cases rely a lot on statements and

evidence such as injuries or digital evidence including photos and videos.”

She said victims should not feel that there was no point to report to the police because some time had lapsed since the attack.

"We have our experts. Maybe there is still some evidence for us to use. Don't decide on your own that there is no chance for an investigation to take place," she added.

ACP Siti Kamsiah noted that sex crimes had reduced significantly during the movement control order (MCO) due to restricted movements and opportunity for such crimes to happen.

Data from her division showed that sex crime cases recorded a 65% drop during the MCO between March 18 to June 30, in comparison to the period prior to the MCO between Dec 4, 2019 to March 17 this year, which recorded 1,318 cases.
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