By : Ili Liyana Mokhtar and Evangeline Majawat
KUALA LUMPUR: Nurul Huda Ghani. Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. Preeshena Varshiny. These girls made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Abducted, brutally raped and murdered, their cases catapulted a flurry of campaigns from various quarters in a bid to create a more secure and safer environment for children.
There was a campaign to equip children with whistles. Certain quarters called for an alert they dubbed the Nurin alert, modelled on an American system called the Amber alert.
There were suggestions for single-session schools, introduction of safety as a subject in schools, establishment of a public registry for sex offenders and placing CCTVs in public areas.
Yet, it was clear that not enough had been done as incidences of violence against children are still occurring. Five-year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar has been missing since Jan 9, after being snatched while on her way home from a playground near her home in Taman Medan.
Protect and Save The Children director Madeleine Yong admitted it was easy to come up with suggestions.
"It is typical to get a knee-jerk reaction, judging from the trend in the past 10 years. It's a lot of talk but no action.
"Campaigns are only good if there is a sound strategy or immediate implementation. Without which, a campaign is just an idea."
She also feels that some of the ideas and suggestions given are by people who were not familiar with the issue. Therefore, the suggestions do not address the core of the problem.
In order for these problems to be dealt with effectively, Yong strongly advocates an overall systematic change from the top down.
"This issue will only be addressed effectively when the government creates a sound strategy or improves on current flawed strategies."
All Women's Action Society (AWAM) president Judith Loh Koh concurs with Yong. She said drastic change must be made by all sectors of society to stop violence and to create safer spaces for children. The implementation process of ideas and suggestions must be speeded up and followed through.
"At present, our reaction to safety issues is ad hoc, where we only take action whenever a particular threat or problem arises."
Former Social Welfare Department assistant director Vijayakumari Pillai feels that there is a need to understand that violence happens everywhere.
"It has implications for everyone. Everyone is involved.
"Since 1991 the Child Protection Act has a provision which states that it is an offence to leave a child without adult supervision, and that the parents or guardian can be charged in court."
National Council of Women's Organisation Malaysia deputy president Datuk Ramani Gurusamy said everyone was guilty of not making a concerted effort to follow through the suggestions post-Nurin.
"It's time for us to take responsibility to tackle this issue urgently."
- New Straits Times