Child sexual abuse in Asia is now at a critical level
According to an Indonesian minister, child sexual abuse is now at a critical level, and the increase in sex abuse cases in Singapore is also causing a worrying trend.
According to Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister in Indonesia, Yohana Susana Yembise, child abuse is at a critical level there, particularly in regard to sexual abuse.
She says, “Violence toward children is increasing everywhere. Indonesia is facing an emergency over violence against children."
In Singapore, the increase in child sex abuse is also a cause for concern and the State Courts show that in 2014 there were 272 cases reported, involving either sexual assault by penetration, sexual grooming of a minor under 16 years of age, outrage of modesty or rape.
The Singapore High Court reports that 13 rape cases were filed last year, up from four the year before and six in 2012. Eight people were convicted of rape last year compared to four in 2013 and six in 2012.
Undetected sexual predators
ABC news reports that in the 1990's, Peter Dundas Walbran, a convicted Australian child sex offender had worked at the Australian and British international schools in Jakarta (Indonesia) and was accused of abusing children in the Indonesian capital, Bali and Lombok, where he later served three years in jail for the sexual abuse.
However, this horrifying case exposes the flaws in keeping track of paedophiles, as after his deportation from Indonesia and without detection, Walbran was able to travel to Thailand and even get a job as a teacher in an international school in Ubon Ratchathani.
Although he had been previously detained on suspicion of possessing child pornography, he was not arrested or charged, as the Thai police had waited for a new law against child pornography to come into force in Thailand in early December before swooping in on Walbran.
Top travel destination in Southeast Asia for paedophiles
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Indonesia is now the number one destination for Australian child sex tourists and according to Natalia Perry from the Safe Childhoods Foundation, there are two types of sex tourists:
Type A - Prolific
Those who gather in paedophile forums, admit what they are and plan to abuse children.
Type B - Situational
Those who might see a young-looking girl or boy and give into temptation.
Both of these types fly over from Australia and other Western countries to Bali (Indonesia), and the Indonesian police are yet to attack the problem hard, she says.
Perry explains, "Of Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand, Indonesia is the only country that has not tightened up. Even admitting there is a problem is difficult for some local authorities."
Andy Ardian, from the child protection group Ecpat Indonesia, told ABC news that they had received information that about 80 tourists from Australia who go to Indonesia every month are part of a sex offenders group.
"But it is hard to prove it, we may get the data on this but proving it is a harder thing", he explains.
Why does this happen?
Dr Lim Boon Leng, consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Hospital, says , "Usually the cause comes from the opportunity the perpetrator has. The perpetrator will always find easy targets who can be easily manipulated, such as a child who is always alone or lives in the same house."
He explains that sexual abuse or assaults can occur across all groups, be they ethnic, racial, socio-economic or religious.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, clinical psychologist and senior director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society adds, "Cases like these always involve trust, and when it comes to a caretaker, the child will be more inclined to listen to him or her."
Anna Surti Ariani, a children’s and family psychologist in Indonesia advises parents that sex education should be given to help children avoid sexual abuse, and the red flag behaviours to watch out for when adults are with children include:
- Making others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional or physical boundaries or limits
- Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this physical contact or attention
- Insists on or manages to spend uninterrupted time alone with a child
- Frequently babysits different children for free; takes children on special outings alone; buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason
- Points out sexual images or tells dirty or suggestive jokes with children present
- Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen (such as talking repeatedly about the child's developing body or interferes with normal teen dating)
Chemical castration for sex offenders
In the election year, politicians in Indonesia were persistent in calling for a more severe punishment for those convicted of child sexual abuse.
Under their current laws, child sexual abuse is punishable by 15 years in jail but unfortunately in many cases, paedophiles have been given shorter sentences, so President Joko Widodo, Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and other prominent figures have pushed to introduce chemical castration as punishment.
Although there are arguments against this policy raised by human rights activists, Indonesia's Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister, Yohana Yembisa, insists that her ministry has held extensive discussions and studies while formulating the regulation.
Other countries which have already legalised chemical castration as a punishment for child sex offenders, include: Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the United States, Poland and South Korea.
Do you think that chemical castration is too severe of a punishment for child sex offenders? What are your personal views on this topic? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.