IT is now a week since local celebrity Datuk Aliff Syukri posted a video on his Instagram account where he is seen to be treating his nine-year old daughter’s wounds, after having caned her for allegedly removing her headscarf in the presence of strangers.
It has, at time of writing, been seen by over 953,000 viewers.
On April 30, women and child rights groups issued a statement calling for action to be taken against Aliff Syukri. A police report has also been lodged by Protect and Save The Children (PS The Children), a member of the Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM), at the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters.
Both family matters and religion are highly sensitive, but these are no excuses for any delay or non-action when the welfare of a child is at stake.
It should be highlighted that Aliff Syukri’s conduct contravenes the primary responsibilities of a parent and caregiver. As a caregiver and parent, his role should be to protect the child.
Instead, he wilfully and physically assaulted his daughter to the point where the degree of force used resulted in welts to her back.
Prevention of abuse by parents was one of the reasons that the Child Act 2001 was enacted, with its primary goal being the welfare and protection of children at risk.
We have sought advice and understand from a religious viewpoint that the punishment meted out was not proportionate to the wrong committed by the child. The decision to wear or not wear religious attire is an extremely personal choice, and parents are encouraged to support their children in their religious learnings.
In this case, the manner in which the punishment was carried out is beyond what is acceptable within prescribed Islamic teachings, where force may only be applied as a final resort.
Even than it should only be used to to gain the child’s attention and only applied on the lower legs or the feet of the child.
The extent of injury caused to this child clearly exceeds what is prescribed.
In the aftermath of the beating, in complete disregard for the child’s privacy and protection, Aliff Syukri made public a video recording where the child was clearly identifiable.
The video showed him “treating” her injured body, whilst verbally chastising her in full view and hearing of a global audience.
This is effectively a public shaming of a child and is a clear violation of her right to privacy. This is damaging to a child’s psychological well-being and is also in contravention of the Child Act 2001.
All of the above should result in an investigation and the specific protection of this child pursuant to Sections 17(1)(a) and (b), (f) of the Child Act 2001, which should include the child being taken into temporary protective custody pursuant to Section 18 of the Act.
The actions of the father demonstrate conduct that is in blatant contravention of the rights of the child pursuant to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Malaysia is a signatory.
We have since discovered that despite the protections afforded by the Child Act, the process of reporting child abuse is difficult and highly procedure driven.
In this case, the culpable party posted his abusive conduct for the titillation of his followers on Instagram, and that the Instagram post itself has been the subject of more than one article.
Yet, without a formal report, no action will be taken despite the fact that the evidence is there for the entire world to see.
In the days since Aliff Syukri original Instagram post was posted, the welts on his daughter’s body will have faded. By the time an investigation is undertaken, (if any investigation is undertaken at all,) there will be no medical evidence to find.
View this post on Instagram
anak perempuan sy kena jaga yg terbaik . . maafkan abah cess???????? abah teramat syg cess tapi ni semua utk masa depan cess utk .. @qadejah_terlajaklaris . Hari ni abah rotan cess sebab abah nak ces faham erti maruah seorang perempuan.....qadejah ni ada satu habit kadang2 dia buka tudungje depan lelaki yg x kenal...mungkin dia x faham sebab dia kecik lagi tapi dari kecik ni saya kena didik la supaya dia tahu batas2 ...tutup aurat . . . . Saya nak anak perempuan saya jadi yg terbaik,pandai agama dan tahu jaga kehormatan. diri...Harap2 dia dapat pengajaran dan belajar dari kesilapan.... . .
If the Welfare Department, police and other institutions whose mandate is to protect children are committed to the goal of protecting children, then surely in a case as obvious and blatant as this one, they should take cognisance of information in the public domain and take the initiative to protect the child, instead of waiting for forms to be filled and information to be officially handed over.
Aliff Syukri claims to have acted to protect his daughter’s modesty. Video-recording yourself and your clearly distraught child while chastising your child, and then posting it on social media for the entire world to see, is not protecting your daughter’s modesty. It is self-aggrandisement, and shameless self promotion which includes the exploitation of his child.
We note that subsequent posts on his Instagram account (on or about April 28) show his daughter in tears because she got lost at Stadium Melawati, and there is a further post (on or about April 30) where he calls on people to stop commenting on how he is bringing up his children and to concentrate on their own.
It is all very well for Aliff Syukri to post about himself and his various exploits. To involve his children, however, by showing them at their most vulnerable is exploitative and must be stopped.
We call upon the relevant officials to urgently review this matter, which in addition to physical harm inflicted on the child, show a pattern of violation of privacy of the child and exploitation of the emotional distress of the child for self promotion.
We ask that the authorities act on the report by PS The Children and pursue the necessary course of action to ensure the safety and protection of the child concerned.
According to news reports last October, there are about 14 reported cases of child abuse a day, and many more which go unreported.
We would suggest there is now a third category of child abuse which involves those bold enough to boast about their ability to bully and intimidate a child and post about it on social media, simply because they can.
Aliff Syukri is successful, influential, and a role model for many, but he is not above the law.
It’s time authorities sit up and take action and tell him that he isn’t.
Aisha Zanariah Abdullah
Association of Women Lawyers