KUALA LUMPUR: Grooming, touching, stalking, suggesting that children expose themselves or getting them to take part in sexually explicit conduct will be offences under the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017.
The Bill, tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said for the first reading, seeks to protect children from sexual offences while going after sexual predators preying on the young.
To ensure the proposed Act is efficient, all parties dealing with children, including the public, are now duty bound to report to authorities any person who commits sexual offences against children.
Predators who groom children to commit non-physical and physical sexual acts including pornography can be jailed for up to five years and whipped.
Anyone who communicates with a child via social media or e-mail, pretending to be a teenager, and develops a relationship with the child aimed at using him or her for child pornography or sexually assaulting the child will be committing an offence.
It will also be an offence if the person preps the child to be sexually assaulted by someone else.
The Bill also states that in both circumstances, it is still an offence even if the perpetrator does not meet the child.
If the perpetrator meets the child, the individual can be whipped and jailed up to 10 years.
The Bill also states that any individuals who "sexually communicates" with a child or encourages a child to sexually communicate, can be jailed up to three years.
There is an exception if the communication is for educational, scientific or medical purposes.
The Bill also separates physical and non-physical sexual assaults on a child.
Physical sexual assaults cover touching a child on any part of the body, getting a child to touch any parts of his or her body, or that of another person, or any other acts involving physical contact without sexual intercourse. It is punishable with up to 20 years in jail and/or whipping.
Non-physical sexual assault include making a child engage in a sexual activity; to repeatedly or constantly follow, watch or contact a child; or engage in any activity that is sexual in nature in the presence of a child.
These offences will invite a jail term not exceeding 10 years or a fine of not more than RM20,000 (S$6,313), or both.
The Bill, when passed, also clamps down hard on child pornography.
Anyone who makes, produces, directs, or is involved in child pornography can be jailed up to 30 years and be whipped not less than six times.
Section 6 of the Bill also makes it an offence for any person who makes any "preparation to make, produce or direct the making or production" of child pornography, and provides for a prison term not exceeding 10 years and/or whipping.
Those found using a child for producing, directing or making pornography can face up to 20 years' imprisonment and not less than five strokes of the rotan.
Read also: Paedophiles find haven on Facebook
Those found guilty of exchanging, publishing, selling, distributing, collecting, transmitting, advertising or making available child pornography in any manner to adults can be imprisoned not less than 15 years and whipped not less than three strokes.
Similarly, exchanging, publishing, selling, distributing, advertising or making available child pornography to children is also punishable with a jail term not exceeding 15 years and whipping not less than five strokes.
Anyone found in possession or in control of any child pornography can also be jailed not less than five years and fined a maximum of RM10,000 or both.
If the offence is committed by a "person in relationship of trust", an additional punishment of five years and whipping of not less than two strokes will be imposed.
"A person in relationship of trust" covers parents, guardians, relatives through marriage or adoption, teachers, wardens, lecturers, schools, public and private institutions of higher learning, those providing healthcare services in Government and private facilities, coaches, public servants, or child minders.
The evidence of a child will be accepted in court, including uncorroborated evidence.
The Bill also states that anyone who fails to provide information on any offence, even one being planned, will face a fine not exceeding RM5,000.
The proposed law will also allow the court to accept uncorroborated evidence by an "agent provocateur" against a predator. The long-arm of the proposed Bill also covers extra-territorial application.
This means that if an offence under the proposed Act is committed by a Malaysian against a child outside the country, the person may be dealt with as if the offences were committed within Malaysia.
The Bill comes less than a year after The Star's R.AGE documentary journalism team launched its Predator In My Phone undercover investigation into child sexual crimes, through which it has been calling for new legislation.