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Friday, August 31, 2012

Statutory rape is SERIOUS: Future of victims just as important as perpetrators' - Eli Wong


Statutory rape is SERIOUS: Future of victims just as important as perpetrators' - Eli Wong
Like all concerned Malaysians I am very disturbed by the recent two court decisions on statutory rape offenses.
First, national bowler Noor Afizal, who was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl, had his jail sentence reversed by the Court of Appeal.
It was then compounded by Tuesday's Sessions Court decision in the case of Chuah Guan Jiu, who was found guilty of raping a 12-year-old girl, yet freed on a bond.
Statutory rape isn't something to be taken lightly. To consider "consent" in the sentencing, as both courts did, is to make a mockery of the very point of the law--to protect minors, deemed incapable of giving free and informed consent.
This is especially true in cases where the perpetrator is an adult, which is true in both these cases. These incidents should not be confused as young children letting their hormonal urges get the better of them.
Both Noor Afizal and Chuah Guan Jiu were adults who took advantage of children far younger than themselves. The former was 19 when he committed the offence with a 13-year-old girl, while the latter was 21, nine years older than his victim.
Future of the perpetrators, what about the victims?
Disappointingly, the courts were more concerned with the future of the perpetrators and not the victims.
The written judgement in Nor Afizal's case specifically states that the decision should not be taken as a precedent. However, by not imposing the mandatory five-year minimum jail sentence for rape, the courts are sending a very unfortunate message to women and children--that their rights cannot be protected by our judiciary.
Worse, potential child rapists might think it is possible to escape the punishment the crime deserves.
I urge the public prosecutors to appeal both decisions on these grounds. Malaysians will be watching very closely, hoping for justice to finally be done.
YB ELIZABETH WONG is Executive Councillor, Selangor State Government & PKR assemblywomen for Bukit Lanjan

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