How often do we hear about domestic issues becoming the cause of many other household problems these days? Broken homes usually attract a plethora of unnatural human developments. However, we are not saying that every broken home will produce a new generation of criminals per se and some can even bring out the best in people just like how a diamond is formed when coal is put under extreme conditions and pressure.
However, the typical storyline will prove that once a bad seed has been planted, the tree will bear bad fruits, or in some cases, poisonous ones. One worrying issue that is ever growing yet does not enjoy the publicity and coverage as other issues is the topic of child sexual abuse. How sad is it to look into the eyes of a child who has been physically and mentally traumatised, and to hear their faint cries when trying to come out with a simple statement as a supplement to a police report. In addition, to think that a child has to be driven up to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, just to record a statement is even more frustrating!
Why does a child have to travel to Seremban you ask? Well, for a start, the statement recording machines in Johor and Melaka states are busted! But what about the child?! Will there be someone accompanying them to the police station and are all the cases being recorded? Unfortunately, there are so many questions with close to no answers or solutions.
While we are here getting angry at the lack of coverage and commitment to the real issues like child sexual abuse, many groups and individuals are taking their own initiative in tackling and raising awareness on the topic of child abuse.
The Johor Women’s League (JEWEL) is a Johor-based non-profit, non-governmental society of women volunteers whose mission is to uplift the status of women and children in Johor through education, advocacy, and other forms of assistance.
Established in 2009, JEWEL has been active for the last 10 years in organising charity fund-raisers to raise awareness on some key issues that have been clouding our nation and the whole world at large. JEWEL takes on the facilitator role in tackling child sexual abuse cases by assisting and supporting the victim with proper channel and resource utilisation.
This time around, with an emphasis on Child Sexual Abuse, JEWEL, in collaboration with Yayasan Raja Zarith Sofiah Negeri Johor, had organised a charity fund-raiser entitled, “An Afternoon Tea with Her Majesty Permaisuri Johor” at Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
The fundraiser event raised some RM800,000 in aid of its signature child sexual abuse awareness and prevention campaign. The largest donation of RM500,000 was granted by DYMM Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar and other major donors were Forest City, KPJ Healthcare, YTL Foundation and Noah Foundation.
The funds raised at the afternoon tea will go towards funding Kempen TinDAK (acronym for Tindak Demi Anak Kita), which is dedicated towards raising greater public awareness and community engagement in combatting child sexual abuse.
Kempen TinDAK was created in late 2016 by JEWEL as a response to the alarming upward trend in child sexual abuse cases. TinDAK’s key objectives are to PROTECT children from falling victim to sexual abuse, via a coordinated awareness and prevention campaign at state, district, and grassroots level. To EMPOWER children to know they have a right to physical and personal safety and STRENGTHENing COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT and collective responsibility in tackling child sexual abuse.
The event was graced by Her Majesty Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, Permaisuri Johor which is in line with her strong advocacy in the area of child welfare and safety.
Also featured at the tea were performances by singers Joe Flizzow, Jaclyn Victor, and Dewi Liana Serestha.
A silent auction was also held at the tea to raise funds for the campaign which saw some exclusive items being auctioned off such as two dresses donated by Penang born designer, Han Chong from his Self-Portrait label and 2 new hybrid of Phalaenopsis orchid, hybridised by orchid breeder, Mr Robert C. S. Ang of Ipoh.
The highlight item auctioned off was a 12 year old (30cm) Hermes Birkin handbag in Crimson Togo leather, donated by Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Tun Aminah binti Sultan Ibrahim of Johor. The bag had been personalised with an abstract art design by the Princess.
The Princess said in a statement, “When I was asked by Dato’ Tom Abang Saufi if I would be open to donate one of my handbags for auction in support of JEWEL’s “An Afternoon Tea with Her Majesty Permaisuri Johor”, I was happy to oblige for the sake of the good cause of child safety.
“I admit I did have misgivings. The Birkin handbag has been in the spotlight lately for the wrong reasons, and I did not want my sincere intentions to be misunderstood. However, one cannot blame the iconic Birkin bag for the perceived misdeeds of a few.
“The overall message I wished to convey through the seemingly raw nature of the abstract pattern is that – there is nothing simple, edited, or understated about child sexual abuse. And we as an engaged society should not attempt to downplay the devastating, long term effects of such abuse on children,” she concluded.
Attendees to the tea event also bought Kempen TinDAK t-shirts that were designed exclusively for the campaign by Sarawak-born designer Dato’ Tom Abang Saufi.
The Johor Women’s League received between three and four complaints a month, on sexual and physical abuse cases involving children in the state.
Its Chairman Liza Alip said it was worrying as JEWEL received an average of one complaint per week.
“They (victims and families) are worried once they lodge reports to the authorities, it will be a long wait before any action is being taken (on the perpetrators) as they are afraid for their safety.
“Hence, they come to us (JEWEL) and we will always monitor and ensure that every complaint is promptly attended by the authorities,” she told reporters at a press conference on the JEWEL’s Child Sexual Abuse Awareness fund raising campaign here.
She said in order to raise awareness about sexual abuse; JEWEL has also provided training to teachers at 906 primary schools in the state that started last year through the Action for Our Children (TinDAK) campaign.
“We are also collaborating with the hospitals to provide counselling in our efforts to change people’s mind set especially among the victims and families, to overcome their shame and to lodge a report,” she said.
Children’s rights in Malaysia have progressed since Malaysia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 and introduced the Child Act in 2001.
Government and civil society initiatives to realise and uphold the rights of children have resulted in progress in the field of education and primary healthcare for children.
However, key challenges remain, particularly for marginalised and disadvantaged groups of children in the country. The Government of Malaysia’s reservations to five Articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles 2, 7, 14, 28(a)(1) and 37) suggests that it takes the view that children can be discriminated against, have no right to a name or nationality, have no freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and should not be free from torture and deprivation of liberty.
The public are welcomed to donate and contribute to the cause of Kempen TinDAK, and are able to do so by sending cheques or funds transfer to the Yayasan Raja Zarith Sofiah Negeri Johor bank account at CIMB Bank: 86-0152061-3.
Currently, JEWEL is working on Kempen TinDAK for Schools, TinDAK Istimewa, and TinDAK for Teens. In the future, JEWEL will be looking at educating Taska and Tadika operators on Child Sexual Abuse.
For enquiries and more information on Kempen TinDAK, email at [email protected]