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“Impose maximum sentence for child abuse”

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Oct 2009: Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who was shocked and upset over the death of a toddler who was potentially abused, has proposed maximum sentences be meted out to offenders.

Urging the police to speed up investigations into child abuse causes, she said the Welfare Services Department would also take action against offenders under the Child Act 2009.

Acts of violence against children must be curtailed and the public should report such cases to the police, the ministry or the department, she told reporters at a news conference today.

She was commenting on Aaliyah Aiman Hussin Abdullah‘s death last week at a condominium in Cheras. Aaliyah’s mother and her Sudanese boyfriend are expected to be charged with her murder.

Shahrizat said the public can file complaints, and seek help or information on child abuse by contacting Talian Nur at 15999.

She said Talian Nur had recorded 2,607 child abuse cases between December 2007 and October 2009, of which 278 were confirmed cases.

She added that public apathy about violence against children has contributed to the increase in child abuse cases. — Bernama

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2 Responses to ““Impose maximum sentence for child abuse””

  1. There are so many problems with this.

    To pick one: the problem with maximum sentence — aside from assumption that all child abusers are equal, they aren’t, some are much much worse than others — is that it reduces the number of reports. If an abused child is told that he [or she] will put the sex offender in jail or to death, how is he [or she] going to cope with that? If the offender is a member of the family, the family will have a greater incentive to silence the child because they know what’s coming if they go public. Better to sort it out inside the family, they would say.

    If the move is designed to shock the public out of their apathy, it won’t work. I suggest publishing a child abuse study with verifiable facts and statistics. And an editorial mandate to use the study as a reference the next time a child’s death sparks a moral panic.

  2. sri hartamas says:

    It’s no good for the Minister to make sweeping statements which are populist in nature. Being legally-trained, she knows that the courts will have to look at the background behind every individual case before passing judgment and sentencing.

    Better still, she should tell us what her ministry is doing to tackle the root causes of the problem – single mothers’ welfare, setting up affordable and quality childcare facilities.

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