Imagine that your home that should be a place of serenity becomes a jail of terror as you step foot into the door because your pedophilic stepfather is in the room next to yours. You rushed into your room, latched the door and hid under the duvet on your bed. Your whole body was shivering because you were so afraid the next moment that monster that is soundly asleep will wake up, unlock the door using the spare keys that is hid under the doormat for emergency purposes and grab your legs and slipping his hands up your school skirt. Imagine your own teacher flirtingly squishing and slapping your butt during class out of the blue but you are not aware it was wrong. Imagine that the person that teaches you religious studies suddenly pulled your hand to the female side of the mosque after everyone left it empty. You struggled to escape and finally you did, but his figure that always passes your street keeps giving dark flashbacks that it happened.
So now when you get to think rationally and ready to seek for justice as you cannot stand the nightmares that haunts you every night and you finally went to court for the case, you are hoping that these devils will be abolished out of your sight and shield from the world forever, but-
Your stepfather is acquitted by The Court of Appeal as his actions of sexual assault towards you in contrary to the present legal definition of rape.
Your teacher is transferred to another school instead of his service being terminated and being punished by the authorities after a report has been made.
These scenarios are only a bit of the sufferings that 16,265, and even more minors, aged as young as six to under 18 years old had to face everyday in Malaysia. Out of the 37,263 cases reported, 2,854 victims were sodomized while 4,739 were incest-rape cases. Rape is often debated in the Parliament, with various quarters calling for the government to amend the existing rape laws.
I have been exposed to the scary scene of sexual crimes and assaults mostly through social media platforms like Twitter. There has been initiatives that has been made to spread awareness regarding this issue by helping the victims by giving their confidential space to tell their stories and educate the public at the same time. Malaysian social media influencer and singer, Takahara Suiko has dedicated a Tumblr account which consists of a compilation of real-life stories that was sent to her direct message inbox on her Twitter account by sexually assaulted victims, sejarahhitamkami.tumblr.com (our dark history in Malay). There have been active non-goverment organizations that whole-heartedly lended their ears to hear and reach out for these victims such as Women’s Aid Organization and Protect and Save The Children.
These sexual assaults happen because of these predators that keep aiming the minors. You don’t blame or claim a child ‘dresses inappropriately’ for pedophilic cases. This goes to rape cases as well, you don’t dare go and tell a girl that’s her fault because she didn’t cover up because if we walk around wrapping ourselves with a blanket head to toe, these rapists will still keep an eye on their target. There’s no one else to blame.
Looking at another perspective, our children, regardless of gender has not been implied that they have full consent and rights towards their own body. Parents still doesn’t bat an eye on campaigns educating them to let their children identify which parts of their body that should and should not someone touch. Children don’t understand that they could say no to anyone that makes them uncomfortable is a major rule in protecting themselves from unwanted danger, especially at a tender age with a naive mind. Whether they know it or not, these criminals are still watching, and most of them are off loose, wandering around looking for their next prey although a lot of accusations has been convicted on them.
I believe that it is time to make it compulsory for parents, guardians, teachers and anyone that lives and works closely with children to be equipped with knowledge regarding the dangers circulating around these playful, innocent souls so they could protect them from witnessing the horrifying reality that thousands of children has been facing for the past years. Children should also be taught on the importance of identifying appropriate and inappropriate touch and affections and when they sense something is not right, they will be brave enough to run and tell. As adults, no matter how bitter and painful the truth might be, for instance, it may be done by the person that you love the most such as one of your family members or even your lover, protecting these children are never a second option. Their future lies in how we react towards it.
Knowledge always opens a new door of new, bright possibilities. With knowledge, we can create a safe environment for our children and let them play peacefully without any harm. With knowledge, we can at least improve and do better for the future. Their future lies on us.