We have read and sympathized with the victim and family members of high profile child abuse cases in Malaysia like Nurin Jazlin Binti Jazimin who was abducted in August 2007 while on her way to the night market near her house in Wangsa Maju. Her naked body was found a month later stuffed in a sports bag and left in a shop lot in Petaling Jaya.
Five months down the road in January 2008, Sharlinie Mohd Nashar was reported missing while playing outside her house in Taman Medan. Her parents embarked on a futile search for her by distributing posters of their little girl. Behind Sharlinie’s smiling face from posters on buses and taxis lies the hurt and sorrow of her parents who, till this day do not know what has happened to their little Sharlinie.
Apart from these two high profile child abuse cases, statistics also reveal the rising number of child abuse cases in Malaysia.
According to the UNICEF website (http://www.unicef.org/malaysia), there were a total of 2,236 cases of child abuse, molestation and rape reported to the Royal Malaysia Police in 2005. These statistics increased tremendously to 5,744 cases in 2008. This jump of approximately 157% in just a short span of three years is a cry for help that needs attention immediately.
The increase in child abuse cases are not something which can be swept under the carpet and be treated like water under the bridge. Child abuse directly violates UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child that promotes and protects children’s rights to develop their full potential, free from hunger, neglect and abuse.
The question is who is responsible for protecting the rights of children?
It is always easy to shrug away the responsibility of protecting the rights of children and let the “other person” shoulder the responsibility. Truth of the matter is that protecting the rights of children is the responsibility of everyone.
As an individual, you can do your part by joining groups and organizations that aim to create awareness on children’s rights. Share latest updates with friends and family and don’t forget to voice your concern on the rise of child abuse cases with government leaders and the media.
For parents, it is important that they educate their children from a young age on their rights as children. Provide for their children’s needs and allow them the opportunity to grow and develop to the best of their potential.
As positive role models, educators can engage parents, children and members of the community to promote children’s rights by initiating dialogue on children’s issues and creating a forum for children to express their opinions and views. Educators are in a perfect position to help children learn more about their rights.
And when everyone is doing their part in preventing child abuse, the faces of children on buses and taxis will no longer be that of missing children, but that of smiling, happy children who are developing to the best of their potential without fear that their rights have been violated.