Published on: Friday, March 14, 2014
Tuaran: The number of sexual offences against children in the State is on the rise despite numerous efforts by the Government to give more protection to children.
Statistics showed that between 2008 and 2013, the number of sexual offences had risen from 238 cases to 250 cases with the highest number recorded at 299 in year 2009.
"Rape cases have decreased from 244 in 2009 to 191 last year.
Unfortunately, the number of incest continues to rise from 17 in 2008 to 35 cases last year, the highest in the six year period," said Tuaran District Crime Division chief, Insp. Zahiruddin Zakaria.
Other sexual offences are carnal intercourse against the order of nature or sodomy and physical abuse.
Zahiruddin said the growing influence of social media among children is partly to blame for the worrying trend especially because children are easily influenced.
During a talk on women and child abuse awareness on Thursday, Zahiruddin said predators are very good at showering praises and gifts to their targets in order to gain the children's trust.
"Who does not like praises? Especially young girls.
After a while, the men will convince them to go out together, maybe for lunch, picnic or just sightseeing. And that's the danger because anything can happen, the children can be raped or molested, even murdered.
"So it is the responsibility of the parents and the guardians to keep their eyes on their children's activities and their children's friends," he said.
Zahiruddin quoted a few cases where children were taken advantage of by adults and said, as long as the child is below 16, any sexual act, consensual or not is categorised as rape.
He said a few years ago, the mother of a 12 year old girl made a police report against her daughter's 34 year old boyfriend who had sex with the girl with the victim's consent.
"The boyfriend was convicted and sent to jail for eight years and two strokes of the cane. The victim actually cried because she said she was willing. But under the country's law, that is still an offence," he said.
He continued that all sexual offences shall be liable to whipping except for offenders aged 50 and above.
In the case of incest, Zahiruddin said, many of the victims were afraid to speak out because they were either threatened or did not know that what happened to them was rape.
"Some children said they respected the offender. Wives also put too much trust on their husbands. Some children even mistook the sexual act as a gesture of love by the parent," he said.
Many rapists also killed their victims out of fear or because they felt challenged by victims who fought back.
Zahiruddin said, while all women and children should be on guard at all times, if they found themselves in hopeless situations, it would be better to try and preserve their lives.
"Don't fight back if you can't. Pretend to sleep or faint because some people will be scared if they see their victims are dead.
Try to find a good hiding place and take the opportunity to seek help.
"If you can, try to weaken the rapist and run as fast as you can.
If everything else fails, try to remember the rapist's face, do not agitate him, report to the police and do not clean yourself until after medical examination is done," he said.
About 200 people took part in the one day seminar organised by the Sabah Women Advisory Council (Health Committee).
Other speakers were State Welfare Department representative Ponniya Irham and Hospital Likas Emergency Department Head Dr Suzana Awg Piut.