A new Act to address instances of sexual violence on children is expected to take shape in two to three weeks, said Minister in charge of law, Azalina Othman Said.
Azalina, who was appointed to lead a newly-formed task force aimed at protecting children from sexual predators, said the committee members had agreed that a new Act was needed to achieve this goal.
“At today’s meeting, several issues were raised, including sexual crimes taking place online, such as that which happened in the case of Richard Huckle.
“The (task force) members believe there is a need for a special law on sexual crimes against children.
“Detailed research will be conducted by agencies involved, as well as other interested parties, including women’s NGOs,” she said at a press conference at the Parliament building here today.
The team would also look into possibly amending the method of collecting evidence from children, and perhaps setting up a special court catering only to cases involving sexual abuse against children, she added.
“We talked about situations where there are not a lot of convictions (against alleged perpetrators), as there are a lot of challenges to evidence presented by children.
“The task force has agreed to study the formation of a new law that will also look into testimonial evidence by complainants.”
She said children tended to lack the skills necessary to relay what had happened to them but they might be in a situation where their abuse needs to stop immediately.
Hence, the task force has taken into account the need for more experts to be placed in government agencies, including the police force.
All these suggestions, she hoped, would be addressed at the next meeting which would probably be held in two weeks.
Asked if the Act would make “grooming” an offence, Azalina said her team was looking at including all possible scenarios, even education for children.
“Usually perpetrators are those considered to be in the (children’s) circle of trust. Children don’t see such an act as a violation. So these are among the things we want to look at,” she added.