Child rights in Malaysia
A PROTECTIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN
Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 to uphold its commitment to the protection and welfare of her children. This was a major step for the country.
A key outcome of Malaysia’s ratification is the Child Act 2001 (Act 611) which forms part of the protective legal environment for children in the country.Several initiatives have been introduced under this Act to safeguard children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. For example, incest has been criminalised by the Penal Code (Act 574), while the Domestic Violence Act 1994 (Act 521) protects the child against violence within the family.
The principles of the CRC have also helped influence Malaysia’s ongoing efforts to reduce the number of children dying before the age of five, accelerate girls’ education, and increase access to education for children living in remote parts of the country. Primary school education was made compulsory in 2002 to ensure increased school enrolment and completion.
The provisions for reporting and monitoring of progress for children have facilitated dialogue and engagement between the Government and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Since the Government’s first Report to the Committee in end 2006, new developments for children have taken place. These include an anti-trafficking act to protect women and children. In 2010, Malaysia withdrew its reservations to CRC Articles 1 (age of the child); 13 (freedom of expression) and 15 (freedom of assembly and participation).
The Government went a step further in 2011 and announced it would accede to both the CRC Optional Protocols which prohibits the sale of children; criminalises all forms of sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography; and bans the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups.