After mum accused of false child sexual abuse report, groups warn of worrying precedent

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) acting executive director, Yu Ren Chung, with Maya Ahmad Fuaad (left), speaks to journalists outside the Magistrates’ Court at the Shah Alam court complex July 13, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) acting executive director, Yu Ren Chung, with Maya Ahmad Fuaad (left), speaks to journalists outside the Magistrates’ Court at the Shah Alam court complex July 13, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

SHAH ALAM, July 13 — Civil rights groups have warned today of a worrying precedent, following the case of a mother who was charged with filing a false police report on the sexual abuse of her daughter.

Women’s Aid Organisation acting executive director Yu Ren Chung said they, along with Voice of the Children (VOC) and Association of Women Lawyers, were outraged after single mother Maya Ahmad Fuaad, 36, was charged under Section 182 of the Penal Code after filing the report when her child complained of sexual abuse.

“This case could set a disconcerting precedent which may deter other parents or affected parties from coming forward to report child sexual abuse,” he told reporters following the case mention at the Magistrates’ Court here.

Yu said parents should not have to fear coming forward to report any abuse against their children, sexual or otherwise.

“Already child sexual abuse is greatly under-reported, so the authorities must facilitate reporting instead of hindering it,

“They should also protect individuals who report child sexual abuse in good faith,” he said.

Instead Yu said the actions of the authorities appear to reinforce gender stereotypes — that women reporting sexual abuse are lying and not credible.

VOC chairman Sharmila Sekaran said the case should be viewed by referring to the Child Act 2001 and Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

“Section 28 of the 2001 Act mandates family members who believe on reasonable grounds that a child has been sexually abused to lodge a report.

“Whereas Section 19 of the 2017 Act states it is an offence if anyone fails to give information of the commission of a sexual offence against a child,” she said.

Sharmila said the case underscores one of the many problems which has lead to under-reporting of sexual abuse and violations against children in Malaysia.

“VOC demands that child sexual abuse be taken seriously. Parents and responsible adults should not have to fear being charged for lodging false reports where charges against an alleged perpetrator is not filed,

“We can only hope the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the government takes strong measures to rectify this damage they are causing. We must protect children,” she said.

During the case mention which lasted around 20 minutes, Maya was warned by magistrate P. Sarulatha to not tamper with the witness, who is her five-year old daughter.

The hearing has been set for September 3.

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