The Dewan Negara recently approved the Sexual Offences against Children (Amendment) Bill 2023. This is a milestone achievement in the government’s efforts to improve child protection and safeguarding.
Among the notable amendments is replacing the term ‘child pornography’ with ‘child sexual abuse material’; increase of the age limit of children from 16 to 18; and also includes provisions related to special hearings or pre-trial hearings for child witnesses to give evidence; as well as prohibition of improper questions to child witnesses.
In recognising the growing threat of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) as children are more exposed to technology and the virtual world, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has plans for more amendments to be tabled. These include mandatory obligation of internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites promoting child sexual abuse material.
"The Madani government does not compromise on sexual crimes against children, and sees that the amendment to these laws is a strong step in the effort to combat sexual crimes against children in Malaysia," she said.