Saturday, August 22, 2009

NGO: Child trafficking a serious threat


PETALING JAYA: Child trafficking in Malaysia is a serious threat but there is no proper collaboration among government agencies to combat it, said Rumah NurSalam adviser Dr Hartini Zainuddin.

“Not one of the 15 cases against arrested child traffickers have made it to court since the Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Act was implemented in 2007,” she added.

Dr Hartini said many officers in the immigration, marine, customs and police departments were not trained to deal with young victims.

“Some were treated as routine illegal immigrants and deported.”

Speaking at a media forum organised by The Body Shop yesterday, she said the victims should instead be placed under the Act which classifies them as those whose human rights have been violated.

Although Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nations General Assembly Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) since 1995, there have been many crucial gaps, she said, citing for one, the lack of proper counselling services for traumatised victims.

Dr Hartini said another major issue was the handling of child victims who don’t have identity documents or are stateless.

Tenaganita coordinator Aegile Fernandez said she had seen many trafficked Malaysian children rescued from countries like Canada, Japan, Germany and the United States.

She said Malaysia was considered a country of origin, transit and destination for child trafficking.

“Many people think that this only happens in Thailand or the Philippines. They need to realise it’s happening right at our doorstep.

“People get shocked when they read about a brutal rape. But these children get raped seven to eight times daily by their clients.”

Fernandez said that babies aged below two were especially popular because they were considered a “long-term investment”.

“They are groomed to enter the prostitution or pornography trade, and eventually become pimps,” she said, adding that children were also trafficked for child labour or illegal organ harvesting.

She said government corruption was another factor, citing restaurants, fishing vessels, golf clubs and hotels that continued to have such illegal activities.

The Body Shop managing director Datin Mina Cheah-Foong said it was raising funds and public awareness to end the exploitation of children.

It’s partners are End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes, Rumah NurSalam, Tenaganita and PS The Children.

A hand cream called “Soft Hands Kind Heart” will be sold at all outlets at RM39.90, with RM30 going to all four NGOs for every tube sold. - The Star.

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