Our society must look into efficient psychological treatment, counselling and rehabilitation before setting sex offenders free, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
The recent conviction of so-called “maths whiz” Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin created a shockwave of repulsion throughout the country and the subsequent reports of how Mara has allowed him to continue his studies upon his release sent aftershocks that rattled our conscience to the core.
Nur Fitri was apprehended last November when he was caught with extreme child porn and has since pleaded guilty to 17 offences, including possession of indecent images and videos of children, with intent to distribute the materials.
The former Imperial College of London student is now serving his 18-month jail term, which was reduced from five years – thanks to government intervention.
This disturbing incident has caused a lot of discontent over how our country deals with both potential child predators and child pornography.
A study conducted by Professor Tamara Turner-Moore from Leeds Beckett University indicated that up to “10 per cent of men have sexual thoughts about children at some stage in their lives”.
In another study reported by the BBC, between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of men are thought to be paedophiles and while some may eventually become dangerous criminals who prey on children, there are those who may never act on their feelings.
The latter may have deep-rooted emotional and psychological problems where they may just end up downloading child porn.
The Center for Forensic Behavioral Sciences, based in Australia, deduced in 2012 that former “victims of child sexual abuse were five times more likely than the general population to be charged with any offence than their non-abused counterparts; one in 10 boys who are sexually abused after puberty go on to become convicted sex offenders”.
In other words, the cycle of violence which refers to the violent behaviour children learn from either their surroundings or based on personal experience are then acted out during their adulthood, perpetuating the notion that violence begets violence.
It is somewhat commonly accepted that once someone commits a crime, he or she is bound to repeat it.
Hence, it is up to the criminal justice system to prevent them from doing so.
As far as we know, Nur Fitri may not have acted out his inner most fantasies physically upon a child, but what we do know is that Nur Fitri is a potential child predator and there are many still unaccounted for out there.
Psychologists hold various opposing views on whether to define paedophilia as a sexual orientation, a mental illness, or a behaviour, hence making child molestation one of the most difficult social problems to comprehend. The question is, how efficient is the rehabilitation of those who are attracted to children? Can these men and women ever be fixed?
Those who feel that paedophilia is just a product of irrepressible impulses that can be ‘cured’ by an assortment of treatment such as both surgical and chemical castration, raise the probability that a simple neurological tweak can neutralise such impulses.
Let’s assume that our society is highly developed enough to accept the complexity of the matter and that both chemistry and morality are equally at fault in creating a sexual predator.
Studies by Stanford University neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky imply that mental illness actually falls in the scale where criminals aren’t “sick” or “evil” but a mixture of both.
Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari proposed setting up a sex offenders registry that will allows “law enforcement agencies to monitor and place restrictions on the movements and activities of offenders, depending on their type of offence, length of sentence and risk of reccurrence”.
Restrictions include limited access to certain locations such as schools or daycare centres, curtailing involvement in work with minors, or restricting use of the Internet, he said.
This proposal will be a great step in ensuring our children are protected from such vile characters, but we shouldn’t just stop there.
The idea that rehabilitation will never work on such offenders appeals to many of us as it provides some level of comfort when handing down harsh sentences commensurate with such vile acts or tendencies – but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Everyday, child molesters are released from jail and into communities with very little planning or resources.
Our society must look into efficient psychological treatment, counselling and rehabilitation before setting these men and women free.
This is by far the best solution our country has at the moment and the best way to keep our children safe.