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Monday, August 7, 2017

MP: Rohani’s reply sends wrong message on child marriage

Kulai MP says it made it sound like child marriages are the solution in such cases of statutory rape.
teo-ni-ching
PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching disapproves of a reply in Parliament regarding a rapist marrying his 12-year-old victim and that she was now in “good health”.
The reply was given by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim.
Teo said the reply made it sound like child marriages were the solution in such cases of statutory rape.
Rohani said the girl, who is now 16, is still married to Riduan Masmud, 44, a former restaurant manager, who was convicted in 2015 of raping the girl two years earlier and is currently behind bars.
“We visited the girl at her family home on April 18 and she was in good health while the husband is serving his time in Kepayan prison in Kota Kinabalu,” Rohani said in response to Teo’s question.
She said the girl was doing well and was being given counselling from time to time.
Teo said even though she appreciated the Social Welfare Department’s (JKM) efforts to visit the girl, the fact that the girl did not continue her studies shows she has a bleak future.
“Because she didn’t continue her studies what type of job can she get for herself? It makes no sense for the marriage to take place in the first place.
“I think it is very difficult for any girl to go back and study after getting married at a very young age,” said Teo.
She said there was a consensus among the parties in Pakatan Harapan women’s wing for the legal age of marriage for girls to be raised from 16 to 18.
Teo hoped the women wing’s from BN component parties would also seek to raise the age limit, adding that at the moment there had been no response from them.
“They (BN component parties) need to make their stand on child marriages,” said Teo.
Bebas member Azrul Khalib told FMT that although he was glad to hear that the girl, who was raped when she was 12 years old, was continuing with her life, he was disappointed to know that she was still married to her rapist.
“Despite the conviction and imprisonment, this case demonstrates the cruelty and injustice of a system which allows for child marriage and the possibility of rapists marrying their victims to escape punishment.
“This must stop. Marriage must not be used to cover up rape,” said Azrul.
He noted that several countries around the world, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan, were repealing laws allowing rapists to avoid criminal prosecution by marrying their victims.
Azrul said such laws were based on the patriarchal attitude that linked a family’s honour directly to a woman’s chastity.
“Marriage is intended to reclaim or protect the victim’s family from ‘the shame’ of rape. These patriarchal and sexist attitudes are the problems,” said the pro-secular activist.
Azrul then questioned why the courts were not protecting these victims, aged below 18, from their rapists and instead granting permission for rapists to marry these children.
He said the Sabah case illustrated both the cruelty of child marriage and locking a child into a marriage with her abuser.
The Sabah girl had informed the welfare officers that she did not want to go back to school as she was embarrassed by the wide media coverage of her case.
Her attacker, Riduan, who had four children, aged between two and 17 at the time of the offence, was charged with raping the girl in a vehicle near Kionsom Waterfall in Inanam between 9am and 10am on Feb 18, 2013.
He married the girl in May 2013 to escape conviction and was charged with bribing the girl’s father with RM10,000 to withdraw the police report the girl had made against him.
He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail after the Kota Kinabalu High Court dismissed the appeal in the statutory rape case. - FMT

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