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Child sex abuse: Counselling the unwilling

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KUALA LUMPUR: A pastor has urged authorities to press on with efforts to counsel victims of child sex abuse even if their guardians are not accommodating.

Paul Pakianathan, a senior pastor at the Community of Praise, said “it is all about the approach” when dealing with sexual abuse victims, especially those who come from communities where sex is a taboo topic.

The problem with some communities, he told FMT, was their refusal to talk about child sexual abuse to protect their own dignity.

He said this mindset needed to be changed to ensure the effectiveness of the fight against child sexual abuse.

“With some communities, especially Indian communities, this is something they don’t like to talk about,” he said.

“They say it’s about dignity. But what dignity? When it involves those who cannot defend themselves, dignity should not be a factor.”

In a report last month, news agency Reuters quoted police as saying that even more than six months after British paedophile Richard Huckle was sentenced to life in jail, most of his victims’ families were declining counselling and other help.

Pakianathan said this was not unexpected, given the overwhelming publicity the case had received.

However, he said, the authorities should not be discouraged from continuing to extend their offer of assistance.

“It’s just like when you go to a funeral where everyone is there consoling the family,” he said. “But days later, when everything quiets down, when they really need someone to be there with them, nobody is there.

“You can use that analogy for Huckle’s victims. Don’t go when things are still hot. Let everything settle down first. Then go and approach them.”

Pakianathan had some encounters with Huckle when he was still in Malaysia.

The convicted paedophile, who posed as a freelance photographer, teacher and philanthropist to gain access to impoverished communities in Kuala Lumpur, used to frequent his church.

Huckle would take some children along with him, and these children often stayed close to him and talked to no one else in the church, Pakianathan recalled.

Free Malaysia Today

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