Very frequently we hear news of missing children, child abuse, child marriage, baby selling and other related issues, but only a few cases are solved while others remain uncertain.
In conjunction with the recent Iskandar Learning Festival (ILF), Johor Women’s League (JEWEL) hosted a talk on “‘Child Rights in Malaysia: Current Issues”, discussing the seriousness of cases related to (local) children in Malaysia, at Le Grandeur Palm Resort, Senai.
The four hour public talk was presented by Dr. Hartini Zainudin, co-founder of Yayasan Chow Kit and Voice of the Children together with Shaney Cheng, Case Management and Treatment Services Manager at Protect and Save the Children (P.S The Children), who shared their thoughts on cases such as baby selling, child marriage, Amendments to the Child Act, gaps in the system in child protection, prevalence of child sexual abuse in Malaysia, and more.
“One of the big issues occurring in the country is Malaysian or non-Malaysian children with no proper documentation being subjected to same immigration control measures including detention, deportation, and restrictions on basic social rights, without considerations of its impact on children, their rights, well-being and development either during short or long term,” said Dr. Hartini during the talk.
Another issue brought up by Dr. Hartini was on missing children since last year, where a total of 1988 children were missing and their cases were not mentioned to the public on how many were returned or found, and how long these children have gone missing prior to the gap via Nur Alert (National Urgent Response) where missing children under 12 years old will be searched immediately within 6 hours, while missing children above 13 years old fall under the ‘search within 24 hours after disappearance‘ zone.
She added that based on her studies and involvement in such cases; most of the missing children ended up in child trafficking cases.
Shaney Cheng on the other hand talked more on issues of sexual grooming and child sexual abuse which falls into three different categories such as from verbal, visual, and physical in Malaysia. A child victim who underwent between those three abuses was commonly affected and experienced the same amount of trauma in the long term towards their development process. “Wander-able” child; a kid who lacks attention from their parents or caretaker are the easiest target for child sexual perpetrators in selecting their victims.
Even though the Child Act (Amendment) 2016 was recently introduced, the amendments gazette were only on child registry, community service order (CSO), family based care, and heavier penalties for offences under Section 31.
Most of the talks or campaigns related to Child Rights or issues were without the presence of the children themselves and therefore, Dr. Hartini and Shaney urged that the society should start to act now by involving their children to participate in conferences or meetings and ask them to share their opinions on this matter.
They also urged the Government to consider a ban on whipping child perpetrators and put them under community services and educate them properly while protecting them especially if they are under the age of 18. If any child is violently abused by either of his parents, then one of the parents should lodge a report to the police to protect the child instead of remaining silent.
Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) Bukit Aman has a statistics of 567 cases of missing children under 18 years old since January to May 2016 while Royal Malaysia Police Database Statistics of Missing Children from 2011 to January 2015 has recorded Johor with 1727 cases as the highest followed by Kedah with 968 cases and Selangor with a record of 215 cases.
In July 2016, Royal Malaysia Police launched a portal of missing children for the public to share and channel information of related cases which will direct towards police investigation at http://knk2hilang.rmp.gov.my