Runaways find solace with lovers

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PETALING JAYA: Young love – with many running away to be with their boyfriends – is the likely reason for girls making up almost three-quarters of children who went missing last year, say welfare groups.Suriana Welfare Society for Children chairman James Nayagam said they were often influenced by their boyfriends.“What happens is that their boyfriends lure them into human trafficking syndicates and prostitution rings,” he said.“The girls get gang raped and become drug dependants. In some cases they become drug traffickers themselves,” he said.

 Nayagam was responding to a statement by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat in Parliament that almost three-quarters of the 3,937 children, aged between six and 18, reported missing between 2014 and January this year were girls.Johor recorded the most number with 681, followed by Selangor (538) and Kedah (474). Most of those reported missing were later found.

Among the reasons cited were that the children were “looking for freedom, uninterested in their studies, failed to find work, suffered from lack of attention from their families or they ran away with their lovers”.Nayagam said many such girls had poor relationships with their parents or family members.“It is a form of neglect on the part of their parents, leading them to develop strong bonds with their peers and boyfriends,” he said, adding that this was however not the sole contributing factor.

Based on a private study Nayagam carried out, other reasons included poor education support, impoverished environment and a history of family abuse.Persatuan Kebajikan Suara Kanak-Kanak Malaysia executive director Anderson Selvasegaram agreed that the reason for the higher number of girls going missing might be due to their lovers.“Their boyfriends are more appealing than life in a broken family,” he said.

However, he said, while this could be the predominant reason, the cases had to be studied.“We need a breakdown on these cases; what type they are and then address each type accordingly.”

( The Star 28th March 2016 )