The number of sex crimes is expected to rise this year while murder, robbery and traffic accident cases are projected to decline.
In its safety forecast for this year, the Police Science Institute said the number of sex crimes, which rose 41.3 per cent from 20,375 cases in 2010 to 28,786 cases in 2013, will continue to rise.
Sex crimes violate the human rights of the victims and, as such, the perpetrators should be strictly dealt with.
While sex crimes encompass a wide range of offences, all leave lasting scars on the victims.
In fact, sexual assaults are seen as one of the most traumatic types of criminal victimisation.
When the victims are children and adolescents, the harm inflicted is even greater. Thus, society should exert even greater efforts to deter sex crimes against this highly vulnerable group.
Yet, sentencing of those engaged in sex trade of children and adolescents to jail terms went down to 28.5 per cent in 2013 from 43 per cent recorded the previous year, a decrease of 14.5 percentage points, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
The percentage of cases involving sex trade of children and adolescents that resulted in suspended sentences, on the other hand, increased by 6.5 percentage points over the previous year, from 32.9 per cent in 2012 to 39.4 per cent in 2013.
At the same time, the average sentencing for raping children and adolescents stood at four years and nine months, falling short of the minimum five-year sentence mandated by the law.
With such sentencing patterns, the authorities appear to be losing an opportunity to deter sex crimes.
This should be a point of concern as many other measures, such as the use of Global Positioning System to track sex offenders as well as the registry of sex offenders and community notification, seem to have limited impact on deterring sex crimes.
Also of concern is the fact that the Internet and are increasingly being used to buy sex from children and adolescents. A stricter monitoring of cyberspace for such activities as well as child pornography should be instituted.
The fact that sex crimes against children 13 years and younger accounted for nearly a quarter of all sex crimes committed against children and adolescents in 2013 should ring alarm bells for society to better protect its vulnerable members.
One way to accomplish this is to deal strictly with sex crimes, by letter of the law.