PETALING JAYA - Child advocates have slammed the actions of a tourist who held the genitalia of two small boys in an island off the east coast of Sabah.
Protect and Save the Children executive director Richarde Edwards Churme urged the government to strengthen the social safety net, both preventive and corrective, to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.
"Photos like this being circulated on social media does not promote a safer society for children. It could be perceived as an endorsement of paedophilia and child sexual abuse," Richarde told the Star Online.
Protect and Save the Children is a non-profit organisation that advocates for safer communities where children are protected from sexual abuse and exploitation.
"If we don't take strong action on something as blatantly outrageous as this photo, it will send the wrong signal to future child abusers, and to existing child abuse victims," added Richarde.
James Nayagam, a child rights activist who is also a Suhakam commissioner, also advocated action and said that a message needed to be sent to the tourist involved in the photo.
"This is unacceptable. Malaysia has defined and upholds the rights of children. You don't mess around locally," he said adding that the identity and dignity of the children needed to be protected.
Semporna police said they were aware of the photo and are in the midst of investigating it.
Another picture showed a group of Asian tourists posing for a photo with a little boy standing naked in front of them. The photo of the man holding the private parts of the two boys, aged between two and three, was the latest to emerge following pictures of Asian tourists stripping naked on an island.