PETALING JAYA - Non-governmental organisations involved in childcare want corporal punishment banned in Malaysia to curb rising incidents of abuse.
The call comes in the light of the jail sentences imposed by a Swedish court on Malaysian couple Shalwati Norshal and Azizul Raheem Awalluddin, who were found guilty of committing multiple counts of gross violation of child's integrity and abusing their four children.
Yesterday, Shalwati, a teacher on unpaid leave, was handed a 14-month prison sentence for offences against her daughter, eldest son and two younger sons.
Her husband Azizul, who is a Tourism Malaysia director, was sentenced to 10 months jail for gross violation of the integrity of his eldest son, assault of his daughter and second son. Both were also ordered to pay their children damages.
Corporal punishment was outlawed in Sweden in 1979.
Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia president P.H. Wong said it was up to the Swedish court to decide the jail sentences based on the evidence.
"In the Malaysian context, the sentence looks harsh, but I for one am strongly against corporal punishment. It should be banned in Malaysia, too, as abuse has a long-term effect on a child's emotions and psychology," she said.
She stressed that there was no need to use force in disciplining children because all bad behaviour stemmed from causes which should be addressed.
"Parents should talk to their children and not hit them. Most parents do not understand why their children behave the way they do," she said.
Wong said good behaviour and values should be reinforced in children when they were below eight years old as they absorbed information easily.
Protect and Save (P.S.) The Children programme coordinator B. Vijay said corporal punishment should be outlawed as it was a harmful practice.
"Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995, thereby making clear its commitment to ensure children's rights.
"Article 19 of the CRC makes it clear that children should be protected from all forms of abuse, including physical and sexual abuse," he said.
Vijay said P.S The Children urged for more effective implementation of existing laws to protect the rights of children.
"We also believe in positive parenting when raising children to enable them to be socially responsible adults," he added.
Suka Society executive director Anderson Selvasegaram said everybody should respect the decision made by the Swedish court.
He said the intent, extent and method of the act should be examined to determine if an act amounted to abuse.
It has been reported that an average five children are being abused every week in Malaysia and the most vulnerable age group was between one and seven years.
Police revealed that 295 cases of child abuse were recorded last year, a 3.5 per cent increase over the numbers recorded in 2012.