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IT was a scene you’d expect to see with one of Malaysia’s biggest celebrities – actress Lisa Surihani taking a picture with a 14-year-old fan, who was clearly thrilled at the opportunity to meet her idol.

But that fan was a resident at a shelter for “wayward” girls, and Lisa, as the ambassador of R.AGE’s #MPsAgainstPredators campaign, had just spoken to her about her experience being sexually groomed and raped.

“I was very nervous at first,” said Lisa. “Because I’ve never had any training on how to deal with someone who’s been traumatised, and there I was, interviewing a rape victim.”

Lisa has been on a mission to help end child sexual grooming ever since she saw the first episode of Predator In My Phone. She was already an ambassador for women’s empowerment organisation WOMEN: girls, which connected her to the R.AGE team that produced the Predator series.

After being sexually abused multiple times, Sara discovered she was pregnant.

Keen to understand what child sexual grooming and exploitation does to its victims, Lisa decided to follow R.AGE to the interview at the shelter.

And that’s where she met Sara (not her real name).

Sara had been groomed by two different men – once when she was 12, and again when she was 14. They befriended her on WeChat and began feeding her explicit material through the chat app, taking advantage of her curiosity and need for affection, and using it to extort her for sex.

After being sexually abused multiple times, Sara discovered she was pregnant.

“She didn’t even know that sex could lead to pregnancy!” Lisa said, teary-eyed. “She wasn’t even Form Two yet, and she had to have a baby. And then she had to give the baby away!”

Being a mother herself, the story struck really close to home.

While she has zealously protected her 10-month-old daughter’s privacy online by not sharing any photos of her, she admitted to feeling helpless in the face of digital safety issues.

“Ever since I’ve had a daughter, I’ve been trying to find the best way to bring her up with all this technology,” she said.

According to Lisa, her experience as a new mother is exactly why she feels like it’s imperative for her to be a part of the #MPsAgainstPredators campaign, which has a website that allows Malaysians to send social media messages to their Members Parliament asking for new laws against child sexual grooming.

“Talking to Sara made me realise how vulnerable our children are, and it’s terrifying. I want to make this a safer world for my daughter.”

Child sexual grooming is now one of the leading causes of child rape in Malaysia. Almost all the 30 or so residents at the shelter Lisa visited were raped as a result of grooming.

Thankfully, Lisa is not alone. Other influencers like social activist Datuk Paduka Marina Mahathir, YouTuber Jin Lim and Jenn Chia, Host and MC JJ, Ola Bola star Marianne Tan and social media activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi are already doing their part to support #MPsAgainstPredators.

The influencers all turned up at the R.AGE office on Friday to launch the campaign through a series of Facebook live broadcasts, which have now been viewed 200,000 times.

They each premiered a public service announcement as well, where they read out actual WeChat messages sent by child sexual groomers.
“It’s an incredible initiative,” said Lisa. “Talking to Sara made me realise how vulnerable our children are, and it’s terrifying. I want to make this a safer world for my daughter.”

To find out how you can join Lisa Surihani in the campaign for new laws against child sexual grooming, go to www.predator.my.

About

Previous intern Clarissa likes a lot of things. Ice cream, books, her colleagues, Welcome to Nightvale. Writing about herself is not one of those things.

  • Bondotte Bondotte

    Salam 1 Malaysia..
    Saya ada kes cabul murid2 perempuan di Melaka..

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