KUCHING: Sarawak has recorded an alarming number of 15 cases of incest which have been reported from January to September this year.
Compare to last year, which recorded 13 cases and 21 cases in 2015, the youngest victim in 2016 was only three-years-old while this year, the youngest was eight-years-old.
Base on the statistics provided by the police, Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the shocking number of incest cases reported over the past few months calls for serious action to address the issue.
“Incest cases that has been happening in Sarawak are both in the rural and urban areas, and the perpetrators are not confined to any particular ethnic group,” she said after chairing the Women and Family Council meeting today.
Among items on the agenda discussed in the meeting was assigning the Sarawak Social Development Council (SDC) to conduct data profiling on the perpetrators and victims of incest.
She expects the profiling report to be completed by November this year.
From the report, the ministry would be able to understand why cases of incest are increasing.
“We need to know why. There can be many factors contributing to this problem. Could it be due to the environment? Or due to family members all sharing a common bedroom? Or due to broken homes such as divorces?
“After that is complete, we will then conduct a lab which will be attended by representatives from PDRM, Health Ministry, Welfare Department, state ADUNs, non-governmental organisations, village heads, school headmasters and counsellors,” she said.
Fatimah emphasised that incest is a heinous crime and encouraged victims to come forward to seek help.
“Due to the close relationship, lodging a police report will take a lot of courage on the victim’s part,” said Fatimah , adding that the victim would normally ponder and feel guilty for putting her own family member(s) in jail.
She added that in some cases, the mother of the victim knew what was happening but held back from making a report for fear of losing the family’s breadwinner or provider.
“The decision that she has to make is very difficult especially when choosing to either protect her child or her husband. This is not an easy choice under this kind of circumstances,” she stressed.
She added that the procedure for cases of sexual crimes start with the complaint which leads to an investigation, arrest and court hearings which have now been expedited to give the public more confidence in the police after making a report.
Sarawak Criminal Investigation Department (CID) head Datuk Dev Kumar who was also at the meeting today has given his assurance that the police will deal with reports on incest with urgency.