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Don’t prosecute a mother for reporting suspected child sexual abuse

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) is outraged that Maya Fuaad has been charged for “false reporting” under Section 182 of the Penal Code, after she lodged a police report about her child’s complaint of sexual abuse.

This case could set a disconcerting precedent which deters other parents, or affected parties, from coming forward to report child sexual abuse.

“A parent should never have to feel afraid to come forward and report abuse of their children, sexual or not. This has been nothing more than the abuse of our justice system, and does not protect the child,” says Maya.

As child sexual abuse is already greatly underreported, the authorities must facilitate, and not hinder, reporting. The authorities must also protect individuals who report child sexual abuse in good faith.

The Child Act 2001 mandates family members to report, if they “believe on reasonable grounds” that a child is being abused. In fact, it is an offence if family members fail to report.

Meanwhile, under the recently passed Sexual Offences Against Child Act 2017, everyone has a duty and is mandated to report child sexual abuse. The Act states: “any person who fails to give information of the commission of … any offence under this Act … to the officer in charge of the nearest police station, commits an offence”.

The actions of the authorities seem to reinforce the gender stereotype that women who report sexual abuse are lying and not credible.

WAO is also concerned about recent efforts to limit and control Maya’s access to her children. Controlling access to children is a common tactic in domestic violence situations.

As this is a public interest case, WAO, the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), and Voice of the Children (VOC) have appointed watching brief lawyers to monitor the court proceedings.


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