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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ministry seeks law review to ensure child rapists duly punished


The ministry will meet Nazri to discuss the laws governing statutory rape. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 ― The government will re-evaluate existing laws on statutory rape to ensure victims are adequately protected and perpetrators receive sentences that match the crime, the Ministry of Women, Family And Community Development said today.
A public uproar over how two men were recently let off by the courts with suspended sentences after they were found guilty of raping two minors prompted the ministry’s statement today.
The ministry said it will hold discussions with de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz on the matter.
“The ministry respects the decision of the courts in sentencing the two adult men who were found guilty of statutory rape recently. But at the same time we view seriously the views of the public who consider the sentences light and not commensurate with the crime,” it said in its statement.
There has been public outrage and concern at what appears to be a legal trend of letting convicted child rapists avoid jail sentences, following two recent cases where two young men were each released on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond.
Former national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu, were 19 and 21 respectively when they committed the offence of statutory rape on girls who were then aged 13 and 12.
In the two cases, judges had agreed to release the two young men who were found guilty of raping prepubescent girls instead of sentencing them to the mandatory five years’ imprisonment, a fine, and whipping under section 376(2) of the Penal Code.
The relatively young age of the two rapists was cited in both cases as one of the reasons for keeping them out of jail.
In both cases, the courts also considered the sex acts consensual even though issue of consent is irrelevant in statutory rape cases.
Malaysian law prescribes the age of sexual consent for girls to be 16 years and above.
Both national bowler Noor Afizal and Chuah may also be classified as paedophiles, according to international medical standards and psychiatrists here, suggesting the courts may have freed sexual predators who might repeat their crime.
The World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) categorises paedophilia as “a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of pre-pubertal or early pubertal age.”
And according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by mental health professionals globally, paedophilia is the sexual attraction to pubescent or pre-pubescents aged 13 or younger, and the subject must be 16 or older with the child at least five years younger.
Noor Afizal was 19 when he committed the offence while the girl he raped was 13, or six years his junior.
In the case of Chuah, he was 21 at the time of the offence, while his victim was 12 ― a nine-year gap between the two.
The age difference between perpetrator and victim in both cases falls within both the ICD and DSM criteria for paedophilia.
Today, the ministry also pointed out that Malaysia was a party to both the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
As Malaysia had ratified the two conventions, it was the government’s responsibility to protect women and children from any exploitation, violence or abuse, the ministry said.

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