MP SPEAKS | In the midst of skyrocketing numbers of Covid-19 cases hitting a new high of 4,029, incidents of sexual violations tend to fall through the cracks in the news.
All attention is naturally on clusters, infected communities and how soon can the vaccine arrive.
My biggest fear came true when I read about the case of a 16-year-old girl who was detained in the police lockup in the Miri Police Station, Sarawak on Jan 8, 2021, as a suspect in a gambling raid.
She was raped while being held under detention under police custody by another inmate the next day on Jan 9 between 4 to 5 am.
The case was highlighted by DAP Senator Alan Ling and Sarawak police commissioner Aidi Ismail has given his assurance that the police will conduct an in-depth investigation into this rape monstrosity.
This includes a suspension of both the policemen who were on duty at the time of the crime.
This is still horrifying as first and foremost there is no place for a child in a lockup in a police station. And the team that conducted the raid should have known that as it ought to be in the standard operating procedure when detaining children.
Secondly, how did the rapist manage to get access to the victim and force himself on her? Didn’t the officer on duty notice that one person was missing from his cell? Did they not hear any sound at that time?
Were there CCTVs in the lockups as pledged and announced time and time again by the many Inspector Generals of Police and Home Ministers that all police lockups will be equipped with functioning CCTVs?
Also, how is Bukit Aman or the state police department of Sarawak going to investigate any allegations of misconduct by their own men independently and fairly given the victim was a person in their own lockup?
The greatest horror that can happen during a pandemic is when human rights, especially for children and women, migrants and refugees, the disabled, minority and the aged are unbelievably violated and when there is a lack of a reaction to it.
When rape cases like this get absorbed quickly and fade slowly behind the great drapery of Covid-19, this political emergency, bread and butter issues, schooling, employment, imminent floods in some states and leakages such as the allocation of a colossal amount of RM35million to build three halls in the Parliamentary constituency of the Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Pagoh, Johor, tend to take centre stage.
The occurrence of it, if not recognised, rebuked and punished, will repeat itself again and again.
This incident itself, the rape of a minor held in police lockup should have rocked the nation, just nine days into 2021 and jolted Malaysia in igniting the conversation again of how critical it is to have the Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) bill to be tabled in Parliament to be debated and passed into law.
With this attempt to derail parliamentary democracy through an emergency, which will result in members of Parliament missing not one but two sittings this year (in March and in July), it is evident that this government is simply not interested in doing what is right for Malaysians to hold our heads high and pride ourselves to be citizens of a progressive, democratic, just and fair nation.
Instead, we have been pushed further into the abyss of an impotent PN Government.
Underneath it all, a 16-year-old girl’s life is shattered because of this.
To the prime minister, home minister, the inspector general of police, and the Sarawak police chief – if heads do not roll on this incident, then you have failed to safeguard the life of a child, a 16-year-old girl who was raped under the watch of the same people who should have been her protectors.
KASTHURI PATTO is Batu Kawan MP and international secretary for DAP Women.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.