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Screening Sex Offenders

Psychiatrists say absence of mandatory assessment of perpetrators and victims could be factor to inconsistent sentencing
ALTHOUGH  sexual offences are often related to psychological problems, there is no provision in the law that makes it mandatory for sexual off enders and victims to undergo a psychological assessment as part of the litigation process.

Psychiatrists from the Universiti Malaya told  The Malay Mail  an absence of such screenings could be a contributing factor to inconsistent sentencing as far as sexual perpetrators are concerned, evidenced by two sentences that drew public outrage, recently.

National bowler Noor Afi zal Azizan and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu were both released on good behaviour bonds, in sums totalling RM25,000 each, for five years and three years, respectively.

Noor Afi zal had been found guilty of committing statutory rape with a 13-year-old girl, and Chuah with a 12-year-old girl.

“The screening is important to determine whether the person has a sexual disorder,  UM consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari.

 “There is fetishism, voyeurism, and also paedophilia, the last involving a person with a tendency of making sexual approaches to those who are 13 years and younger,  he said.

“Someone with the tendency of paedophilia could repeat the offence if the person is only sentenced to five years in jail.

“It could pose a future risk to the community.

At the same time, someone who just happened to have sex with a minor once could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“The overall idea is that the risk posed to the community must be lower after the sentence is served.

“A rehabilitation process must come with the sentence. 

UM research fellow in clinical neuropsychology Vigneswaran Veeramuthu said the number of sexual off ences in the country has been consistently increasing over the past decade.

“In 2000, we saw some 2,000 cases. In 2011, we have more than 3,300 cases.

“These numbers are based on police records,  he said  Need to see problem in holistic manner

Vigneswaran, who has authored a dissertation paper on sexual offences in Malaysia, said the authorities normally adopted  knee-jerk approach when dealing with the problem.

“We need to look at the whole problem in a holistic manner,  he said.

Prof Dr Aili Hashim, an associate professor at the Department of Psychological Medicine, urged the public to maintain the momentum when discussing sexual offences.

“The issue has always been there, and it is serious enough. It is only when a case appears that people start talking about it,  she said.

Dr Aili also welcomed Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail  recent statement that the two recent court verdicts calls for a review on the law that governs sexual offences.

Dr Aili and Dr Muhsin had both co-authored a journal earlier this years on the same topic.

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 – 17:10
By Ram Anand – Malay Mail
Location:
PETALING JAYA