Side Views

A child victim’s rights — The Advocate

MARCH 21 — Does a child have to be dead first before the authorities react and think of ways on how to protect children and their rights in Malaysia? Just because a child does not vote, does not make them any less important.

Has anyone ever stopped to think that children are an asset and our future generation, and priority need to be placed on cases involving children especially child sexual abuse and rape cases.

Just about every day we read or hear about these abuse cases. But when you actually have to live through the system or should I say lack of one, that you step back to think, who else have gone through this same process, kept quiet, and just took it in their stride without questioning anything because this is how Malaysia is.

But really is this what we are and how it is supposed to be? Must a child victim, and her family be victimised over and over again due to the lack of a proper system, and qualified, trained personnel to handle sexual abuse cases?

When it involves a minor, mainly one below 10 years old, why do we not listen to the victim, empathise with them, and get qualified child psychiatrist present with the police to question the child?  Do the authorities seriously need to take statements more times than necessary?

A child sexual abuse victim plucks all her courage to reveal her abuse to her loved one, and in doing so getting it off of her chest. A parent, being responsible, and doing what’s right after all the law is supposed to protect the victim and punish the perpetrator, reports the case to the police for further action.

Before the child sex molester is charged in court, he is allowed out on police bail without having his passport seized or being made to report to the police station daily.

Meanwhile the child victim and family are in hiding as what stops the sex perpetrator from kidnapping or killing the victim to shut her off forever.  There is no protection for the child victim or her family.

After being charged in court, the perpetrator, more so if he is a senior citizen and retired is let out on a measly bail amount.  His passport is not taken from him, and he is free to continue his life as before as nobody knows he is charged in court.

He may be a member of a prominent club that works closely with children, and even after charged, nothing stops him from being in close proximity with children. Since the case concerns a minor, and more so if he is related to the victim, his name or face is hidden from the media.  Once again the offender hides behind the victim.

In the meantime, the victim’s life has changed so drastically. She can’t quite go back to her normal routine in life. Her schooling is affected and her every movement monitored to ensure that she is safe.

Her family is affected.  There is the emotional rollercoaster that is faced daily, and a sense of being alone to fight this out. Was reporting this case even the right thing to do.? Is justice going to prevail?

Life is put on hold till the trial starts. And the trial date can only be set, after the case is mentioned and all documentation ready and exchanged in court. So help you God if you are waiting for a report from the forensic department. It will take a while because cases involving children are not listed high on the priority list.

No one quite tells the family on how to cope.  When you leave the hospital, you are asked to call the psychiatric department to attend counselling, and you’re on your own. You have to take the initiative to contact the different child organisations to seek for advice on your next course of action.

If the trial drags on how does the child victim who just wants to forget the details of the abuse do so when she needs to remember as she needs to testify.  How can the child ever heal and find closure?

Does a child sexual abuse have to happen to a minister’s child or someone in power for them to actually go through the system, then get off their rear-ends and do something about it now.

Treat child victims with respect, have a one-stop centre to treat and care for child victims and their families, show love and empathy, fight for their rights for a faster trial, and amend the child act to involve child pornography and trafficking.

If not we will live in a society where sex offenders are roaming the streets and many more cases will continue to not be reported, children will continue to suffer in silence because in our system children are just not a priority.

* The Advocate reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.


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