©Bernama (Used by permission)
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 (Bernama) -- Stringent laws are needed to stem the growing child prostitution in the country, Datin Seri N.Saraswathy Devi, president of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) said Tuesday.
"Malaysia has seen an increase in child prostitution with an average of about 150-160 local girls being detained annually for participation in immoral activities," she said in her paper at the five-day Fida XXXII International Convention here.
Pushing for the death penalty for human traffickers, like drug traffickers, she said: "We need a deterrent legislation. Men using these women must be punished and hotels involved in these activities must also be penalised."
She said children around the region were also facing the dangers of being smuggled for begging and prostitution in countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
"Malaysia has, over the years, been a choice location for both trafficking women and girls in and out of the country, which is considered an optimal transit point," she said.
Saraswathy said Malaysia received women and girls from countries like Indonesia, Thailand, China, India, Russia and several eastern European countries.
In Malaysia, approximately 150,000 women are in prostitution and they are mainly adult women.
"Combating trafficking and prostitution of women and girls requires the cooperation of legal systems, governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. Only then we can further the aim we share.
"Combating corruption is a major part of fighting trafficking of women and girls and governments should set up specialised means of dealing with corruption," she said.
Saraswathy, the wife of former Selangor police chief Tan Sri P. Alagendra, said the law must ensure the protection of victims and witnesses as well as prohibit illicit work and exploitation of women and girls.
She said the flesh trade was a flourishing industry, growing along with the expanding global trade and tourism sectors, with lucrative source of income.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Bar Council called on the government to act promptly to formulate laws to protect the victims of human trafficking.
Its president, Yeo Yang Poh, said such crimes had reached critical proportions due to the lack of such laws.
"The victims are forced and some are even abducted to carry out immoral activities like prostitution. So, the syndicates using these victims should be punished," he said when asked to comment on former lord president Sultan Azlan Shah's statement that victims of human trafficking should not be treated like criminals.
"For starters, the government should hold a forum with the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), consultants and the relevant ministries to come up with a law that will protect victims of the flesh trade," Yeo said.
The country's legal system would be tested with the formulation of the new law, he added.
See also Malaysia placed in Tier 2 in the USA's 2005 Trafficking In Persons Report