KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 — Despite a strong legal framework, a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) today showed that Malaysians have little faith in the government and law enforcers to combat sexual violence against children.
In the report titled “Out of the Shadows”, the EIU highlighted that government data on the prevalence of such abuses is collected arbitrarily; it is also unclear if the data is used to draft future policies.
“Despite many formal legal protections for children against sexual offences, there is not a great deal of confidence in the ability of law enforcement and the judicial system to implement these protections,” said the report.
The report scored Malaysia 53.4 on the Out of the Shadows index, with a ranking of 20th among the 40 countries surveyed.
In comparison, neighbours the Philippines scored 55.3, Cambodia 52.5, Indonesia 47 and Vietnam 42.9.
The top three countries in the index were the United Kingdom (82.7), Sweden (81.5) and Canada (75.3).
A higher score indicates a better response to the threat of child sexual abuse and exploitation and the index does not attempt to measure the scale of the problem in each country, nor its prevalence.
Malaysia scored particularly low on “government commitment and capacity”, ranking 33rd out of the 40 countries.
For the “government commitment and capacity” indicator, Malaysia scored 39.3, well below the average score of 50.4.
Among all sub-indicators, Malaysia scored zero on four: Internet protections, data collection on prevalence, access to offender support programmes, and media industry engagement.
The country was ranked fourth worst when it comes to general sex laws.
Despite that, Malaysia received praise for its adequate laws against offences such as child rape, purchasing sexual services from children, procuring children for sexual activities, trafficking children and grooming children online.
Malaysia also has developed several national plans to protect children against neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation.
In addition, victims of child sexual abuse have access to support mechanisms such as social protections and universal health coverage, with a dedicated telephone helpline.
The study is based on data and information from 34 indicators and 132 sub-indicators, grouped into four categories that measure the extent to which countries are acknowledging the problem of sexual violence against children, and whether they are implementing measures to address and prevent it.
EIU is the research arm of The Economist Group, publisher of London-based weekly magazine The Economist. The survey was done backed by the World Childhood Foundation and Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation.