PETALING JAYA: A child rights activist has warned that perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are not necessarily deterred from committing the offences again even if they are subjected to heavy punishments like lengthy jail sentences and caning.
“The prison term would only keep the culprits away from the victims while whipping does not ‘change’ them and they may return to repeat their acts,” Sharmila Sekaran, executive director of Voice of Children, told FMT.
She said the scenario was similar to the death penalty for drug trafficking offences which has failed to deter people from carrying drugs.
Sharmila was commenting on the 48-year jail sentence meted out by the Sessions Court yesterday on a 36-year old father for 623 charges of sodomising, raping and sexually abusing his teenage daughter.
Dubbed ‘monster dad’ in the media, the man pleaded guilty to all the charges under the Penal Code, Sexual Offences Against Children Act and the Child Act.
He had sexually assaulted his daughter for the past two years, sometimes several times a day.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said she hoped the sentencing would stop culprits from continuing to commit such despicable acts.
Sharmila, who is also a lawyer, said the ‘monster dad’ who was driven by his high sexual desires should have sought treatment and therapy from experts.
“But we do not seem to have enough professionals like sex therapists here to deal with sexual desires,” she said.
“If their sexual urge ‘strikes’, the victims could be the first people they turn to (to satisfy their craving),” she said.
Sharmila also said convicts like the father should be given rehabilitation treatment while in prison as well as after having served time.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching also said a custodial sentence and whipping would not work.
She said this case should serve as wake-up call to review the education system to teach children about sexual issues.
“Why did the daughter take two years to speak out? Was she not taught in school to speak up when she was ‘violated’?” Teo said.
She said as a mother, she felt very sad for the victim for having suffered two years of sexual assault at the hands of her father.
“We need an education system to empower victims and give them the courage to speak up when they are suffering. The authorities should give them a sense of security in that they are ensured protection,” she said about victims of child sexual crimes.
She also said Rohani’s hope that the punishment may stop other culprits from committing the same heinous crimes, was wishful thinking on the minister’s part.
“She should improve the current sex education system, rather than be wishful,” Teo said.
Besides the “monster dad” case, it was reported recently that a father and his three sons in Sarawak were jailed a total of 105 years with 24 lashes of the cane for 13 counts of incest, after they raped two female relatives.
Police arrested the four after a medical check-up on one of the victims revealed she was 25 weeks pregnant.