IPOH, Nov 28 ― Despite the state’s best efforts in organising several sexual awareness campaigns, the state government said it has seen disappointing levels of participation among men.
State Women’s Development, Family, Community Welfare, Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Rusnah Kassim said the lukewarm response is holding back the effectiveness of the state-organised programmes.
“Based on what we have seen, the majority of people attending these awareness campaigns are women and children,” she said recently at the Perak state assembly.
“The state is taking this issue seriously, but there are very little men coming to these programmes, and this means that our goals are not being fully achieved.”
Paediatric specialist Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS echoed Rusnah’s comments, adding that men regularly made up around 20 per cent of sexual awareness talks that he delivered.
Dr Amar, who is Paediatric Department head and senior consultant paediatrician at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, noted that many of these talks were held by women’s organisations or welfare associations, where more women were attached.
He stressed that it was vital to instil a respect for women and children among men in the community.
“In many ways, we still live in a patriarchal society. It is important to make men aware of the respect they should have for women and children, and this is what I stress in my talks.” he told Malay Mail.
“To increase male attendance, these campaigns can be held at programs where more men will be present,” he said.
“For example, I recently spoke at on sexual safety at a programme for tahfiz schools. Around 70 per cent were men because it involved school headmasters.”
Dr Amar said it was also important to have more male speakers addressing the subject at awareness programmes.
During her recent wrapping up speech in the Perak state assembly, Rusnah announced that 148 investigation papers had been opened to probe sexual crimes like rape, incest, sodomy, abuse, and molestation from January to October this year.
From that total, 46 cases had been brought to court ― with only five resulting in convictions.
Rusnah noted that 80 per cent of sexual crimes were committed by a person known, or who had familial ties, to the victim.
“When these cases are brought to light, only a small number are charged because there is a lack of evidence,” she told the state assembly.
“This happens because the witnesses refuse to cooperate with the investigations, which makes things very complicated.”
With this in mind, Rusnah said prevention and awareness-raising measures were the best option to deal with sexual crimes towards children.
To that end, she said the state had organised several programmes to educate the state’s children involving government agencies like the state Welfare Department and the Royal Malaysian Police.