SEREMBAN: Seventeen children were abused on average in a day in the first four months of this year, says Datuk Seri Rina Harun.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said almost 35% of the 2,040 cases involved neglect, while almost 30% were victims of physical and sexual abuse.
“The victims in the bulk of the cases were abused by their own family members, including their parents and guardians. “We understand that many of these perpetrators may be emotionally disturbed or simply frustrated probably due to matters such as job loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they can never take this out on children,” she told reporters after visiting a 13-year-old girl with Down Syndrome at a government-run centre here, believed to be a victim of abuse.
Rina said the community must be sensitive and report these perpetrators to the authorities so that appropriate action could be taken. She said for the whole of 2020, 5,836 cases were reported. In 2019, there were 6,382 cases and 6,274 in 2018. She appealed to the public to call the ministry’s 15999 toll free line or WhatsApp at 019-261 5999 or to contact the police if they came across cases of child abuse.
They can also report such matters at any of the 108 district Welfare Department offices nationwide. On the 13-year-old girl believed to have been a victim of abuse, Rina said appropriate action should be taken against those responsible. “I met the victim a while ago and she is still traumatised by the episode. “It is my hope the police can wrap up their probe soonest and if there is proof of abuse, those responsible must be dealt with accordingly,” she said.
On Tuesday (July 6), Kuala Lumpur CID chief Senior Asst Comm Saiful Annuar Yusoff said police have opened an investigation paper over the abuse of the teenager following a report received on June 24. The victim, he said, had burn marks on her chest, hand, neck and thighs, as well as other injuries. Medical examinations conducted at Hospital Kuala Lumpur showed that she suffered an infected burn wound over bilateral forearm and multiple old scars all over her body, and that she also tested positive for Covid-19.
A police probe showed that six other children also lived with the victim at a condominium unit in Wangsa Maju. However, they were not harmed. A 28-year-old woman, who is a caretaker, is currently being investigated by the police. Rina said the victim used to live at a government-run home previously, but was then allowed to be adopted by an individual.
“When the girl was able to eat, bathe and take care of herself, we agreed to allow her to be adopted. “In February, our officers visited her and she was alright,” she said, adding that the department only knew of the case when a recording of the victim went viral. Rina said the non-governmental organisation which operated the home where the children lived had, prior to this, submitted an application to be registered.