| Azlan Othman |
WITH innocent children increa-singly falling prey to cyber predators, the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) has urged parents to monitor their wards’ Internet activities to protect them against online abuse.
This is especially important as seven out of 10 people in Brunei Darussalam are hooked online and six out of 10 use Facebook. In fact Facebook penetration rate in the Sultanate is the highest in this region at 59.25 per cent, compared to Singapore (55.37 per cent), Hong Kong (52.92 per cent) and Malaysia (47.27 per cent).
This was highlighted by ASP Mariyani binti Abdul Wahab from Women and Children Abuse Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in a talk on Child Protection in Brunei Darussalam delivered to a group of private school teachers on Thursday, citing international surveys and statistics.
She highlighted some recent court cases one of which involved an 11-year-old girl. She became a victim of online chat after she befriended a ‘22-year old’ man, who was in fact 48 years-old, in an online chatroom.
After three months of cyber talk, they eventually met where the man gave her gifts and had intercourse.
But when the man was prosecuted in the court after two years, it was found that he was 50 years old, and he was jailed.
Statutory rape (sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age) with a child aged below 14 carries a hefty imprisonment and strokes of rattan.
ASP Mariyani also highlighted some abuse cases in the country including a few cases of wives abusing their husbands, which are rare. According to police statistics, two cases of hurting husbands were recorded last year, down by one case compared to 2012.
In 2013, cases of causing hurt to wife totalled 111, down by five cases compared to 2012. Causing hurt to family members totalled four cases last year, down by three cases compared to the previous year.
There has been a reduction in cases related to physical abuse of children, including sexual abuse, in Brunei last year with only 17 cases compared to 23 cases in 2012. This is mainly due to the awareness campaign conducted by school authorities and the police which aims to assist parents as well as children.
Rape cases too showed a decline due to the awareness roadshows that highlight having sex with a minor is an offence. However, three cases of abandoned babies were recorded last year with one casualty compared to two cases in 2012 with one casualty.
Child abuse cases totalled 36 last year compared to 33 cases in 2012 and there were no attempted rape cases last year compared to five in 2012. Three incest cases were reported last year compared to seven in 2012 while there were nine under-age intercourse cases last year compared to 13 in 2012. Outraging modesty cases were 25 last year, compared to 21 in 2012. No sodomy cases were reported last year compared to two in 2012.
ASP Mariyani added, if a parent complains to the school authorities for lodging an abuse case to the police or any other relevant authority, just say that it is in the law to do so.
Under Cap 219, 26 (1) the Children and Young Persons Act, it states that if a childcare centre believes on reasonable grounds that a child is physically abandoned or emotionally injured as a result of being ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed or is sexually abused, it shall immediately inform a protector.
Any childcare centre which fails to comply with the above is guilty of an offence which carries imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.