Malaysia now holds the dubious distinction of being the No. child pornography consumer in South-east Asia, with many paedophiles using backdoor websites to upload and download materials to avoid detection.
Ms Jenny Ong Chin Lan, the head of the Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Division of the Malaysian national police, said about 20,000 internet protocol (IP) addresses in Malaysia were detected uploading and downloading photographs and visuals of child pornography.
She revealed that prior to 2014, an average of 60 children a year became victims of sex predators whom they befriended through apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Beetalk and social media sites like Facebook.
The number however, increased to 184 children in 2015 and 183 minors in 2016.
As of May last year, the figure stood at 117.
Amid heightened concerns over the matter, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said it is tough for the authorities to detect the culprits as backdoor downloader websites hide the identities and IP addresses.
Still, he reminded people that it is an offence to download and upload child pornography material in Malaysia.
“I urge all internet users in the country not to engage in any pornographic activity, including downloading child pornographic materials, as it is an offence,” Mr Nur Jazlan said.
He said Malaysia is working with its counterparts in Australia and the United Kingdom to track and trace the errant internet users responsible for uploading and downloading child pornography online.
The need to be vigilant and track down the perpetrators comes following the arrest of British serial sex offender Richard Huckle last year.
Huckle was arrested by Britain’s National Crime Agency after a tip-off from Australian police and was found guilty of abusing up to 200 babies and children, mostly in Malaysia, as well as uploading child pornographic materials using local servers.
He was sentenced to life in prison.
The case shocked Malaysians who raised questions in social media about the effectiveness of child protection laws and their enforcement.
The Huckle case has prompted Malaysia to look at strengthening its laws.
Last April, the country’s parliament passed a legislation that deals with sexual crimes against children.
It also set up a special criminal court that will handle cases involving sexual crimes against children, the first of its kind in the country and also in South-east Asia. AGENCIES