KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Body shaming on social media is nothing new, with seemingly nothing able to be done to stop cyberbullying.
Recently, a 21-year-old girl who was doing a live make-up tutorial was bullied by TikTok users who said she was ugly and should wear a helmet.
However, she did not make a report about the abusive remarks to the authorities.
Another victim, Sophia, 40, said she was body shamed by a person claiming to be a fitness coach who uploaded her picture on Facebook and then criticised her for being flabby.
Sophia said she made a police report, and even though she forwarded it to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), she has not seen action taken.
These examples of apathy could lead to victims experiencing emotional distress or committing suicide.
Lawyer, Nor Zabetha Muhammad Nor, said victims who want justice and cyberbullies to stop their behaviour must first and foremost lodge a complaint with the police and MCMC at its website (www.mcmc.gov.my).
“In these kinds of cases, screenshots of degrading digital messages can serve as evidence. The victim should collect relevant evidence, such as the background of the abuser and their comments, for further action.
“Commentators have a right to comment because it is the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution. Nevertheless, that freedom has limits, too. You can’t go on saying things that defame someone,” she said, while adding that perpetrators can be charged under the Defamation Act 1957.
She said that a person could also be charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 which states that it is an offence for anyone to make a menacing or offensive comment with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person.
“If found guilty, a person who commits the said offence could be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year,” she said.
Another lawyer, Shahrul Fazli Kamarulzaman, said culprits can also be brought to book under the Penal Code.
“Section 509 of the Penal Code states that any person who insults the modesty of another, either by uttering words or through a gesture shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and/or a fine, if found guilty.
“Meanwhile, Section 499 of the Penal Code states that a person who by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, is said to defame that person,” he said.
If found guilty, the person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and/or fine, Shahrul added.
“So every time before clicking the ‘send’ button, one should know that comments and statements may annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person and could expose oneself to a criminal offence,” he said, while cautioning cyberbullies that crime does not go unpunished.