Be vigilant about sexual misconduct

Fatimah Abdullah. Photo: Ummi Munirah

KUCHING: “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” (Trust is placed on someone’s shoulder but in the end, the very person damages it), stressed Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

She was commenting on a former cook, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison plus 10 strokes of the cane, for raping his 10-year-old stepdaughter.

“Instead of taking advantage of his stepdaughter, he (stepfather) should protect the helpless child! This heinous act will definitely have a long-term psychological impact on the girl.

“As parents, relatives, teachers, physicians or friends, we should all always be mindful of any stories told by children,” she said today.

According to the Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister, the community need to investigate how rapists manage and train victims so that they are always silent about the abuse done to them.

She added that parents play a very important role in providing sexual education to their children (whether boys or girls) starting at home at a young age.

“Parents need to be proactive and vigilant about sexual issues among children and need to be more open when their children raise questions about sexuality, contraception and socialising.

“The community should also be made aware not to look down on unmarried mothers, apart from providing access to sexual services and reproductive health to adolescents who are identified as sexually active, through education and community awareness,” she explained.

Fatimah added that the establishment of a One Stop Teenage Pregnancy Committee (OSTPC) in 2014 by her ministry together with the state Health Department, which provides sex education among adolescents, has successfully reduced pregnancy cases among adolescents from 2,120 cases in 2017 to 1,967 cases in 2019.

Since 2015, OSTPC has also proven to reduce baby abandonment cases from four to only one case this year.