Dr Jeremiah when conveying the speech of Datuk James Ratib at the event
KOTA KINABALU: More than 1,500 pregnancies involving underage girls have been reported from 2017 to 2021, said the Minister of Community Development and People’s Well-being (KMKR), Datuk James Ratib.
“This figure is really disturbing; as well as the inhumane practice that is becoming more and more common, namely the disposal of innocent newborn but unwanted babies.
“I read in the media about the birth of children out of wedlock by their mothers who were still children. In Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu at the age of 11 and in Penang at the age of 9.
“The media also reported that in 2022 alone there will be 329 cases of teenage pregnancy out of wedlock in Sabah which is the second highest number in Malaysia,” he said.
James said, in Sabah, there was a viral case of a 41-year-old predator who raped a 12-year-old for six months in a car at Kiansom Inanam Waterfall, about 9 years ago.
“Almost every day there are news stories reported in mainstream newspapers and online portals on websites about abuse or sexual assault on children.
“It is beyond human instinct when cruel and despicable aggression is done to small and weak children.
“I feel horrified when I envisage how painful it is for children to notice that they have been defiled.
Imagine the fear and anxiety of these children, especially those who have been victims repeatedly before the perpetrators were caught by the police,” he said.
According to James, in addition to the physical injuries suffered by these children, mental instability can also result in the growth of their attitude being stunted and even remaining a part of their character.
He added that almost all child victims of sexual crimes suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in various forms.
“Some don’t want or don’t know how to tell those who want to help them; some suffer from delusions of mind, often have horrible dreams related to the incident of aggression against them; or mental and physical grief until some try to injure themselves or kill themselves,” he said.
This, he further said, clearly shows that child victims of sexual crimes at such a young age and small bodies are forced to face challenges that torture and test their ability and perseverance to receive help and continue living.
James who is also the Sugut Assemblyman stated this through the text of his speech which was read by the Special Officer (I) to the Minister, Jeremiah Daniel, during the SABAH DIALOG: “Improving Support and Protection of Child Sexual Crime Victims” held at The Palace Hotel, Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday.
He added that a detailed study of the data on sexual crimes against children collected and compiled, states that, among others, there are two large groups of predators.
He said, a sub-group exists from the overlap of these two large groups.
“Quite surprising is that the majority of predators from this sub-group come from poor families who live far away from cities or towns,” he said.
Meanwhile, James said that many incidents of sexual crimes against children are not reported to the authorities.
“More so if the victim’s family is faced with the fact that the predator is a family member of the child who was raped.
“This gets worse when local people who know about this heinous act choose not to take care of the edges of other people’s clothes,” he said.
Therefore, he asked the central government to deal with the problems faced in Sabah such as the lack of human resources; and technical capacity weaknesses.
In addition, he said action also needs to be taken on the lack of facilities such as Child Interview Center (CIC) in strategic districts; specialized courts and judges; and the lack of financial allocations for education programs, prevention, etc.
“Don’t forget about the difficulty in detecting and handling child sexual crime cases, including child pornography which is increasing online where specific expertise for investigation and prosecution is needed,” he stressed.
He commended the Women’s Center for Change (WCC) and Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (SAWO) and the sponsor, Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) who made the dialogue session a reality.
“The Sabah government welcomes and appreciates all forms of your involvement in finding thoughtful recommendations for the topic being discussed.
“Indeed, the effort to share knowledge, experience, and skills in various aspects and perspectives, will make this program achieve the desired objectives.
“I am all for the brainstorming among you in the dialogue today and pouring out opinions to find inclusive solutions to help children who have been victims of sexual crimes,” he said.
Participated in the event were more than 40 individuals representing the D11 Division of the Royal Malaysian Police, hospitals, the welfare department, the Attorney General’s Department, the courts, and non-governmental organizations.
Also present were WCC Advocacy Working Group Chairperson, Lalitha Menon, SAWO President, Dr Easwary Hari Ramulu and WCC Program Director, Karen Lai, among others.