Survey reveals alarming statistics on internet-initiated sex abuse of M'sian minors

ADRIAN DAVID


KUALA TERENGGANU: A 2015 survey of school children in Malaysia, conducted by the police’s sexual, women and child investigation unit, and telecommunications company Digi’s CyberSAFETM, has revealed shocking statistics.

Their findings show that one out of ten children is likely to have been asked to upload intimate photos or videos of themselves onto the internet; there has been a 300 per cent increase in internet-initiated rape cases in the country between 2010 and 2015; and that close to 80 per cent of reported rape cases by predators in Malaysia over the past two years involved internet acquaintances, with the majority of victims below 18 years of age.

Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd spokesperson Nur Azlyn Abdul Rahman said that to address the issue of growing sexual abuse of minors in the country, a ‘#SayaSayangSaya’ nationwide cyber-grooming roadshow is being held to protect youth from online predators, and to raise awareness among adolescents and young children of the existence of sexual predators.

“The roadshow is to provide young Malaysians a safe platform for discussion on internet safety and to empower them with the knowledge to stay safe online,” Nur Azlyn said during a townhall series at the Terengganu Family Planning Association in Jalan Sultan Omar here.

The effort was undertaken by Digi Telecommunications, R.AGE, WOMEN:girls, and the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (Unicef), in collaboration with the police.

WOMEN:girls is a cause-driven, not-for-profit social enterprise which creates and initiates conversations on the roles of women and girls in society, while giving them tools to be role models and agents of change within their community and environment.

R.AGE is an international award-winning documentary journalism platform run by a bunch of “crazy, young, undercover and investigative multimedia journalists and filmmakers.”

Nur Azlyn said that #SayaSayangSaya is a continuation of last year’s ‘#ReplyForAll’ townhall meeting meant to provide adolescents and youth with a safe space to articulate, and share their experiences, concerns and recommendations on Internet-related sexual violence.

“The aim is also to empower them to recognise predatory online grooming; and to act accordingly with confidence, as well as to promote the need for age-appropriate and quality reproductive health education in schools,” she said.

Nur Azlyn added that the youth-friendly townhalls will be held in at least five states throughout the year and #SayaSayangSaya was formed based on the principle that any healthy relationship starts with loving and respecting oneself first.

“The lack of proper reproductive education and digital safety knowledge can cause children to become more susceptible to cyber-grooming, when they are not able to identify signs of grooming.

“Additionally, more sexual predators are using the internet and technology to find, abuse and exploit their victims.

“As a result, the act of ‘grooming’ a child for sexual acts via the internet has emerged as a troubling issue in this country,” she said.

The Terengganu #SayaSayangSaya townhall meeting will be followed by one in Kuantan on Thursday, March 23.

Townhalls will also be held in Kelantan (April); Sabah and Sarawak (June) and Kedah (Sept).

Malaysians can also join in on the live tweetchats by following #SayaSayangSaya on Twitter. Apart from the townhall series, youths can also participate in polls on Teen Relationships and Online dating via http://malaysia.ureport.in/ to learn more about sexual crimes on the Internet.

Additionally, youths can share ideas, posts and advice on internet safety at http://replyforall-my.tumblr.com/.