MPs unite for law against child sexual crime

BY KAMLES KUMAR AND IDA LIM
Barisan Nasional and Opposition lawmakers have united to support the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 which was tabled in Parliament today. — Picture by Kamles Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Barisan Nasional (BN) and Opposition lawmakers have united to support the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 which was tabled today.

The Bill which was tabled today proposes a law that will criminalise the making and owning of child pornography, as well as various offences such as child sexual assault.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said who tabled the Bill, said that perpetrators of child sexual acts will not escape the law.

“To all perpetrators out there you can run but you cannot hide. We will go after you.

“All MPs of the Malaysian Parliament will be united on this issue. We won’t allow any excuses,” she said during a press conference at the Dewan Rakyat today.

The media conference was attended by Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, Umno’s Kuala Kangsar MP Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid, PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching among others

Azalina also said that under the new laws, even family members who commit such crimes would be unable to escape punishment.

“The child depends on family members to make police reports but sometimes that doesn’t happen as family members at times are the biggest perpetrators. No one is going to escape,” she said adding that even those who abet such crimes would be charged.

The minister also stressed that a special court would be established to look into the matter in Kuala Lumpur and soon after in each state.

The Attorney General’s Chambers also has a “wider reading of evidence” for the Bill and will be amending the Penal Code to accommodate new provisions, Azalina said.

The Pengerang MP added that that so far 115 MPs from both sides of the divide has supported the Bill but hoped that all 222 MPs would support it by next week.

“Those who don’t support this Bill I define them as perverts,” she stressed.

Azalina also urged all lawmakers to support the Bill and help make any suggestions for amendments necessary in areas like punishment.

Rohani meanwhile was enthusiastic that the Bill will enable authorities to go after child sexual crime offenders on a harsher note compared to the current Child Act.

“This law is important because what is not covered in the Child Act is covered here. Child Act is to protect children but perpetrators escape. So we welcome this Act.

“We are happy that sexual grooming is contained in this Act,” she said.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah said that the law was important for the future of children in the country as sexual crimes are currently rampant.

“There should be a holistic solution. Everybody needs to join hands to ensure that this Bill is passed.

“This is an important and fundamental issue. We have to protect children,” she urged.