Protect our young girls
IT is distressing for those of us working with child abuse victims to see another child who has been sexually abused (statutory rape) apparently ignored by the courts.
The last two rulings by the court seem to focus more on the perpetrator rather than the victim’s situation.
It is possible that the judges involved have never seen the plight of a young girl who has been taken advantage of, even when it is conveniently called “consensual”.
The law to protect young children from sexual abuse and rape is there for a purpose, and written with reasons.
There are a number of concerns here with these custodial sentences.
Firstly, the age disparity between the perpetrator and the victim clearly shows that the victim was too young to understand or control the situation.
It makes a mockery of the word “consensual”. The older men, both adults at the time, should know better but chose to ignore the rights of the young girls.
Secondly, the ruling ignores the trauma that has happened and will continue to haunt these young girls.
Having worked with childhood survivors of sexual abuse for many years, I can say that the girls involved will face much emotional and psychological pain for years to come.
Again this has been seemingly ignored in the sentencing.
Thirdly, we are giving a clear message to other perpetrators that the courts takes a soft view of the abuse of children when the perpetrator involved is a young adult.
This will embolden more to act without restraint.
Both the Penal Code and the Child Act, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, are clear as to these actions.
They are abusive acts of an adult who should know better.
A child has been taken advantage of and damaged, possibly for life.
It is sad when we have ignored the silent cries of our children for our support and protection.
Friday August 31, 2012 DR ALEX KHOO PENG CHUAN ( Paediatric Neurologist Ipoh ) wrote: ( http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/8/31/focus/11945217&sec=focus )
A crime is a crime, regardless of how young they are
AFTER 55 five years of independence, we have shown the world that our children are unprotected and open prey for the lustful. The consent or lack of consent is irrelevant in these cases, as they concern a crime of the most violent form: child sexual abuse.
Rape is the worst form of violence and when it happens to a child, innocence is lost forever. The reasons given by the judges concerned wherein the perpetrators got off easy is an injustice, being a slap in the face to all of us who have dedicated our lives and careers to the safety and welfare of children.
These children were not sexually experienced individuals, but gullible children who had put their trust in these men only to be betrayed. The very nature of the age gap between the individuals in the relationships suggests that these were paedophiles and predators.
The two girls were hardly beyond primary school and pre-pubertal! Many 12- and 13-year-olds would not even be menstruating yet. The psychological impact on the victims is well documented and ranges from anxiety to suicidal thoughts and social isolation.
While a national bowler and an electrician get their lives and careers back, their victims are left unnamed, shamed and subject to further abuse.
If we were to remain silent, it would mean that we accept the verdict. I certainly do not!
The Court of Appeal would be the right thing. This is clearly so morally wrong. Even if the laws regarding rape, statutory rape and child abuse are legally distinct, an age gap of six years is significant and ought not to have been a factor in the judge’s final decision.
This can only mean that there is clearly a lack of understanding of child development and child psychology among the judiciary, and I would like to invite any of our respected learned judges to join us as we go about our business in the children’s wards and our clinics attending to our little ones.
Maybe then, when they are on the ground instead of being in a high chair, do they feel the pain that affects us all with their verdict.
MPA e-Committee Malaysian Paediatic Association www.mpaweb.org.my