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Macau records sharp rise in child abuse cases

Alarming statistic comes despite a drop in the overall crime rate in former Portuguese colony
Macau has experienced a sharp rise in child sexual abuse in the first half of this year, according to the Office of the Secretary for Security of Macau

Macau has experienced a sharp rise in child sexual abuse in the first half of this year, according to the Office of the Secretary for Security of Macau. (Image: Pixaby) 

Published: August 26, 2022 04:12 AM GMT
Updated: August 26, 2022 04:36 AM GMT

Macau has experienced a sharp rise in child abuse cases while overall crime rates have dropped, indicating the need to tackle social instability fueled by the increasing unemployment rate, says a report.

The Office of the Secretary for Security of Macau released the crime statistics for the first half of 2022 on Aug 25.

It recorded 17 cases of child sex abuse compared to 19 cases for the whole of last year, Portuguese-language newspaper Ponto Final reported. The rate is 70 percent higher than in 2021.

During this period, 14 rape cases were reported, compared with 16 cases for the whole of 2021.

Overall, Macau reported 15.8 percent fewer crimes with 4,983 criminal cases registered in the first half of 2022.  

Wong Sio Chak, the Secretary for Security of Macau stated that the drop in crime was due to the reduced number of tourists amid the pandemic and consistent efforts by the police force.

“There is a continuous downward trend in other types of crime, especially due to the reduction in the number of tourists in Macau due to the epidemic situation of the new type of coronavirus,” Chak said.

He also highlighted the “continuous work to strengthen prevention and fight against crime” put in place by the police.

The state agency also reported that cases of violent crimes were at a negligible level, which indicated a very peaceful environment in Macau.

“In the context of crimes of serious violence, kidnapping, murder and serious bodily harm, we continue to maintain a zero rate or a very low rate,” the agency said in a statement.

"Several conflicts in society will inevitably intensify"

The report also stated that an increase in the unemployment rate has not had a “significant negative impact on the security of society, especially in crimes directly related to gambling.”

The report however cautioned on the impact that the consistent increase in the unemployment rate will have on the security and stability of the region.

If the unemployment rate continues “several conflicts in society will inevitably intensify, which will inevitably bring more factors of instability to the general security of Macau.”

The unemployment rate in Macau was 3.7 percent from April to June 2022, up from 2.9 percent during the same period in 2021.

Macau, dubbed “the Las Vegas of the East” for its glittering gaming and gambling industry, is a special administrative region of China. It was a Portuguese colony from 1557 until its handover to China in 1999.

With an estimated 21,000 people per square kilometer on the 33-square-kilometer island, Macau is one of the world’s most densely populated places.

Macau has about 30,000 Catholics in an estimated population of 700,000.

The multimillion-dollar gambling industry, estimated to be seven times larger than that of Las Vegas, is Macau’s primary source of income and was the worst affected after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The borders have reopened, and the casinos are now open for business. Macau officials said they expect an influx of tourists will revive and stabilize its ailing economy.

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