Sexual crimes are on the rise in the country, with almost half the victims being children and teenage girls below 16 years old.

According to the police sexual crimes unit , sex offences have risen consistently over the last five years.Rape is happening everywhere, anytime and anyone can be a victim.

The Police are already on alert that rape cases have been rising since 2005. A worrying trend, however, is the rise of rape against the young, which we estimate to be around 50% of the total number of rape cases each year.

Police statistics released by the Sexual Crimes and Children Investi­gation Division reveal an alarming trend – almost 80% of those committing sexual crimes against minors are close or known by the victims, and they include fatherly figures, neighbours and relatives.

Earlier this week, news of the rape of a 10-year-old girl by her school van driver shocked the nation.Prior to that, it was reported that five schoolgirls aged between 12 and 14 were stalked and lured with free meals and money before being raped.

These shocking incidents are only the tip of the iceberg.Last year, a total of 2,048 rape cases involving girls aged 16 and below were recorded, compared to 925 cases in 2005. While a big percentage of the cases were statutory rape, many young girls were coerced into sex or preyed on by sexual offenders.

(Under the Penal Code, sex with a girl aged under 16 is an offence classified as statutory rape.)

Kids today get involved in relationships earlier, so they are more vulnerable. Many are easily duped and are not equipped to defend themselves in risky situations.

While a growing number of perpetrators are boyfriends who either coerce the girls to have sex or force themselves on them, there is an alarming number of young girls who are raped by male acquaintances they had just met.

They meet a guy for the first time and willingly follow him home. This is the risk because the boy is essentially a stranger and he can rape or sexually violate the girl when they are alone.Or worse, he might have his friends waiting, and they will gang-rape her.

Cases like these are hard for the police to solve as most of the time the girls did not even know the boy’s full name.Some cannot even describe the perpetrators or give the address of the crime scene, so police have difficulty investigating the case.

Internet and mobile technology were other factors connected to the spike in rape cases,police said. Many are increasingly using them as a way to prey on prospective victims and keeping them under their thumb through blackmail using nude photos and sex tapes.

Source: Sunday Star @ 1/8/2010.