MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Malaysian children subject to online sexual exploitation - Unicef study


At least four percent of Malaysian children between the ages of 12 and 17 were found to have been subjected to online sexual exploitation and abuse in a study conducted between 2017 and 2019.

The study was carried out by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and its partners. A report based on the study called ‘Disrupting Harm in Malaysia’ was released this afternoon.

It was revealed that the exploitation includes being blackmailed to engage in sexual activities, having their sexual images shared, or being coerced to engage in sexual activities through promises of money or gifts.

“In addition, five percent of the surveyed children (46 children) received unwanted requests to talk about sex and three percent (26) received requests for images showing their private parts, which, depending on the circumstances, could constitute grooming,” read the executive summary of the report, which was presented by Unicef research consultant Marium Hussein.

The study was funded by the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and saw a partnership between the Unicef Office of Research, the international NGO End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (Ecpat), and The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

It surveyed a total of 995 children in Malaysia between 2017 and 2019.

Some of the survey questions that the researchers deemed as sensitive in nature, such as those that discussed whether the children have shared sexual images online, only involved those aged between 15 and 17.

Based on the findings, the researchers said that the percentage, when scaled to the population, “represents an estimated 100,000 children who may have been subjected to any of these harms in the span of a single year”.

According to Marium, they believe the actual number of children in Malaysia who were exposed to online sexual exploitation could be much higher.

She said this is due to the sensitive nature of the survey, which they believe could cause a certain degree of under-reporting.

Most exploitation via social media

According to the report, children mainly experienced online sexual exploitation or abuse through major social media platforms.

The platforms included WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Telegram.

Results of the survey also suggested that many online sexual exploitation cases were undisclosed or were not formally reported.

According to the report, the reasons given by the children for not disclosing such cases included:

  • Lack of awareness of where to report or whom to tell

  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment

  • Not thinking the incident serious enough to report

  • A sense of having done something wrong

  • Concerns about getting into trouble

  • Concern that disclosing would cause trouble for the family

  • Concern that the incident would not be kept confidential

  • Not believing that anything would be done about it

Those who did reach out, the report added, were most likely to confide in their peer or a caregiver, and cases that got reported to authorities were generally by or with the support of adults. - Mkini

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