British paedophile case just tip of the iceberg, Unicef warns

Unicef Malaysia revealed that the number of webpages containing child sexual abuse material grew by a staggering 147 per cent from 2012 to 2014. — AFP pic
Unicef Malaysia revealed that the number of webpages containing child sexual abuse material grew by a staggering 147 per cent from 2012 to 2014. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — After a paedophile admitted in the UK to raping scores of Malaysian children, the local chapter of the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) said today that Richard Huckle’s case was only a small part of a much larger global problem of child pornography.

In a statement, Unicef Malaysia said data shows that the trade has been growing over the years and that an estimated two million children across the globe are affected by sexual exploitation every year.

It also revealed that the number of webpages containing child sexual abuse material grew by a staggering 147 per cent from 2012 to 2014, and that girls and children 10-years-old and younger are depicted in 80 per cent of these materials.

This, it added, is despite the existence of numerous legislation and action taken by law enforcement agencies across the world to fight the distribution of child pornography.

“What happens on the World Wide Web is a reflection of society at large,” the group said.

“The recent case of the British national arrested for child sexual abuse and exploitation involving children in Malaysia, is a small part of the horrific trade in child pornography and the extensive scourge of paedophilia around the world,” it added.

Unicef Malaysia said in addition to action by law enforcement, citizens worldwide should do their bit to prevent paedophiles and other sexual predators from inflicting further harm on children.

The group suggested the supervision of interactions between children and adults, stopping people from entering homes without permission or supervision, paying extra attention to the whereabouts of children and their activities, as well as making sure Internet regulators are alerted on websites that exploit children.

“Every child deserves the right to be safe wherever he or she is, and it is our role as parents, community leaders, neighbours, religious figures, technology providers, youth, school administrators and more, to be alert and notify the relevant authorities when you see a child in danger, online or offline,” Unicef Malaysia said.

It also urged for the establishment of a registry for sex offenders and said it will join several Malaysian stakeholders this June 25 to demand for stricter legislation to enhance child online protection.

In March this year, Parliament was told that discussions on establishing such a registry is still at a preliminary stage.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government was not rushing as it hoped to avoid overlaps with the existing Registration of Criminals and Undesirable Persons Act 1969.

Last year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri backed calls to set up a sex offenders’ registry, amid uproar over the case of a Malaysian who was convicted in the UK of possessing child pornography.

A UK court had in May 2015 convicted Malaysian math student Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin of possession over 30,000 videos and photographs of child pornography that the London police described as “some of the most extreme” materials they have ever seen.

Today, paedophilia again exploded into Malaysian news after reports emerged that a 30-year-old Briton in the UK had confessed to sexually abusing young children ― including at least one just six months’ old ― in Malaysia.

Huckle reportedly took pictures and video footage of himself abusing the children, which he uploaded to the so-called dark web ― a hard to access part of the Internet often used for illegal activity.

Investigators found over 20,000 indecent images on his computer, while Huckle also kept a ledger of his attacks and wrote a manual called Paedophiles And Poverty: Child Lover Guide.

Huckle, who had set himself up as an English teacher here, was charged with 91 offences in London's Central Criminal Court.

He initially denied all 91 charges but later admitted 71 of them during a string of further hearings. The charges include 14 counts of rape and 31 of sexual assault.

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