In recent weeks, one particular individual’s return to Malaysia
became the talk of the town. Serial rapist Selva Kumar Subbiah spent 24 years in prison in Canada after the Canadian court found him guilty of sexual assault and extortion. Despite being charged with assaulting 30 women, authorities believed that he could have attacked up to 1,000 women. Canada named him the country’s “worst offender” when he was caught in the 90s.
Since completing his jail sentence, Canadian authorities have ordered Selva Kumar to be deported back to Malaysia. He came back to hostile reception last week after a retired police officer from the Toronto sexual assault squad warned that he was likely to reoffend. His return generated fear and outrage among Malaysians. Some wanted him to be jailed in the country, some wanted him exiled, and few even wanted him to be castrated. This negative response stems from the fact that the 56-year-old is now able to roam freely
in Malaysia, with the exception of Sabah and Sarawak having barred him from entering
Selva Kumar’s case brought some of Malaysia’s biggest sexual crimes to light once again.
24-year-old Noor Suzaily Mukhtar
’s bus ride home turned tragic after the bus driver, Hanafi Mat Hassan, raped and strangled her after dropping off the last passenger. He tossed her body out of the vehicle. She was found with 44 external injuries on her body, including abrasions around the vaginal area. The Federal Court sentence Hanafi to death and he was hanged
Image: The Star
2003: Canny Ong
was kidnapped at a shopping mall only to have her dead body found four days later at a construction site. An aircraft cabin cleaning supervisor, Ahmad Najib Aris, had raped, stabbed, strangled Ong and proceeded to burn her body. After spending 11 years on death row, Ahmad was finally executed
Image: The Star
2004: Nurul Huda Abdul Gani’s
10-year-old body was found after being gang-raped and sodomised by a security guard, Mohd Abbas Danus Baksan. He was sentenced to 20 years of jail
and 24 strokes of the rotan
. However, he was later spared from the rod because Malaysian law states that those above the age of 50 should not be whipped.
The gruesome murder of eight-year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin
shocked the nation when her body was found naked and stuffed in a gym bag, as well as a brinjal and cucumber brutally stuffed in her genitals. Her killer is still at large
MARA scholar Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin
was convicted in the UK for possessing and distributing over a staggering 30,000 child pornographic materials. In a twist of events, MARA had decided to give the 23-year-old Imperial College London student a second chance to continue his studies
in Malaysia when he returned to the country. It is believed that he is currently back in Malaysia.
2016: 30-year-old Richard Huckle
posed as a philanthropist and English teacher in Malaysia and worked with NGOs. During his stint here, he preyed on poor children and committed a shocking number of sexual attacks against child victims. He was arrested in Britain for possessing over 20,000 materials of child sex abuse he had committed and posted online. He pleaded guilty to 71 counts of child sex offences and was sentenced by British court to 23 years in jail
Unfortunately, these are only a small handful of the many sexual crimes that occur in Malaysia.
Between 2000 and 2015, there have been 37,263 rape cases reported involving girls as young as six years old
! The shocking statistics showed that more than half rape cases were committed against minors between the ages of 13 and 15
. In more recent data compiled by the Malaysian police, 12,987 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to police
between January 2012 and July 2016. However, the data doesn’t reveal much about the people involved or what happened in cases where there were no convictions. There was also no information revealed in cases where there were convictions.
Statistics from the Home Ministry
also indicated that from 2005 to July 2014, out of the 28,471 rape cases
that were reported, only 16% were brought to court and merely 2.7% of the perpetrators found guilty
. Sex-related crimes are often considered taboo in Malaysia, which could be one of the reasons why some go unreported.
Image: Yeo Bee Yin Blog
Damansara Utama ADUN Yeo Bee Yin had urged more leaders to speak out against rape
in order to generate more awareness in society. Regardless of the age of victims, human rights advocates have also been pushing the Malaysian government to disclose data pertaining sexual abuse to the public in order to increase awareness and take necessary action, especially considering how this social issue continues to grow every year.
Hence, many leaders have stressed the urgent need for a comprehensive sex offenders registry in Malaysia.
Image: The Star
According to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the police currently have an unofficial sex offenders register that is not disclosed to the public. He said a registry would help a lot to alert the public on any sexual offender who may be lurking among them or in the same neighbourhood. On the contrary, the IGP once told reporters in 2015 that a sex offenders registry was redundant
because we already have a criminal registry which supposedly serves the same purpose. He noted that setting up another registry specifically for sexual crimes could cause an overlap.
However, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri had disagreed with the IGP’s call
and proceeded to stress the urgency of a separate registry. Some lawyers and advocates also urged the government to follow the United States as an example
when it comes to dealing with sex offenders who are likely to repeat their crime, such as Selva Kumar. According to criminal lawyer Farhan Maaruf, he said the US has one of the best methods in handling sexual criminals that is deterrent and preventive, which is different compared to European countries that prefer to wait and see. This said preventive measure includes setting up an official registry.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act in the US requires criminals who have been released to register themselves with the community in which they reside and the person would have to notify the authorities if they move to another location. This Act demands that the public has the right to know that there is a sexual offender in their neighbourhood. An Act like this could pose useful in Malaysia as well, seeing the rising cases of statutory rape in recent years.
In January, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry established the Child Registry, which holds information regarding child sexual offenders.
Image: Malay Mail Online
The Child Act (Amendment) 2016 (A1511 Act)
contains a list of children who require protection, care and rehabilitation, as well as the details of child sexual criminals. This data is accessible by request to the social welfare department director-general, allowing employers whose businesses involve children to conduct a background check on a potential hire as an added safety measure. Such positions include maid, canteen staff, school bus driver, school security guard, among others. Each request made will be accessed thoroughly before the confidential data is released.
Laws related to sexual crimes in Malaysia may need amendments.
Image: See Hua
In Malaysian law, only penetration by the penis is considered rape
. Several years ago, a Sarawakian man named Bunya was released from a rape charge by the Court of Appeal because he had penetrated the child victim with his fingers. But the thing is, the victim became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, and a DNA report actually confirmed Bunya as the biological father. This case raised further questions and debate about the serious need for review of the law here.
In contrast, the US Department of Justice defines rape
as, “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim”. This ensures justice for victims because any violation of a person’s body must be treated as a sexual crime.
According to officials and welfare groups, weak policing and child protection laws in Malaysia
also make it hard to punish child abusers here. There have reportedly been instances of inadequate investigations being conducted and even low convictions reported on some cases. Malaysia’s largest NGO against child abuse, PS the Children, stated that they saw zero convictions on all the cases they handled, after operating for 17 years. This could be due to the fact that Malaysian court often gives little weight to a child’s testimony, although the police take every child sexual abuse case seriously.
"There needs to be improvement in the criminal justice system if we want to encourage more people to report, otherwise we will re-victimise the child," said Founder Madeleine Yong.
Sexual crimes are not only a problem in Malaysia but also a concern in more developed societies.
Sweden and Denmark reportedly have the highest incidence of sexual crimes in Europe
despite having the “best quality of life” ratings. Studies show that a staggering 80 to 100% of people in both countries said they were sexually assaulted as adults. And in France, Germany, and Finland, 60 to 79% of people said they were sexually assaulted.
Some of our neighbouring countries in the ASEAN region have begun taking serious action towards combating sexual crimes
. Last year, Indonesia's parliament passed a legislation which authorises chemical castration, minimum sentences and even execution for convicted paedophiles. Thailand also introduced stricter laws against child pornography last year.
Therefore, it is high time for the Malaysian government to seriously look into combating and handling sexual crimes in the country as soon as possible for safety of the public and justice for the victims.