Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has lauded the withdrawal of false reporting charges against a mother who had reported suspected child sexual abuse, emphasising that the decision would reduce barriers for the public to report child sexual abuse.
On Monday, the Deputy Public Prosecutor withdrew “false reporting” charges against the mother, during proceedings at the Shah Alam Magistrate’s Court. The mother was charged for “false reporting” under Section 182 of Penal Code in April 2018, after she had made a police report about the alleged sexual abuse of her child.
“This decision sends the message that we have a collective responsibility to report child sexual abuse — and we should be able to do so, without the fear of being charged for false reporting,” says Executive Director of WAO, Sumitra Visvanathan.
“Make a police report if you reasonably suspect a child has been abused. A child’s life could be at stake. Our primary concern must always be the best interest of the child.”
“A police report made in good faith should never lead to a charge of false reporting. In fact, we have a duty to report or we break the law.”
The Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 mandates anyone who knows of child sexual abuse to report such cases to the police. And it is an offence is one fails to report child sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, the Child Act 2001 mandates parents, medical officers, and child care providers to report child abuse to the social welfare department.
“Child sexual abuse is shrouded in silence and underreported. This decision should encourage more individuals to come forward to report such cases,” adds Sumitra.
“When we report child sexual abuse, we allow due process to take place to safeguard children. This also sends the message that we will not tolerate child sexual abuse in our community.”