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Rape is not a crime of lust and passion, but a crime of violence and opportunity, said the All-Women's Action Society (Awam) today.

"Let us not perpetuate the belief that a woman's dressing and behaviour are the causes of rape," said Awam in a statement faxed to malaysiakini .

According to Awam, the cause of rape is power, and the subjugation and violation of another person.

"Rape reflects a society where culture, social and political institutions place the dominance of men over women," said the women's organisation.

Awam was responding to the brutal rape and murder of computer engineer Noor Suzaily Mukhtar last Saturday.

Noor Suzaily had boarded a bus in Kuala Lumpur to a medical centre where she was on a two-week attachment.

The Star reported today that the police believe Noor Suzaily was raped twice before her attacker used her tudung to tie her hands and sodomise her.

It is believed that when she struggled, he untied her hands and used her scarf to strangle her. Her naked body was later thrown out of the bus, and her clothes were found about 500m away.

The driver of the bus has been arrested by the police on Tuesday on suspicion of committing the crime.

Awam said that the solution to rape must include efforts to put women on equal footing with men.

"On the legal front, it must be reiterated that rape is a crime of violence and should be treated as such. Gender-sensitive laws, efficient and effective enforcement must be implemented and carried out," it said.

In addition, Awam urged that public places and facilities including public transport be made safe for all users.

"Thirteen years ago, 10-year-old Ang May Hong was brutally raped and murdered. Last year, schoolgirl Audrey Melissa was violently raped and murdered. Today, we hear of Noor Suzaily. Act now before the next woman and child gets raped," it added.

Raped in spite of modest dressing

Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam (SIS) said that the bus company that employed a wanted man with a criminal record as driver must be held accountable.

The suspect, who has joined the bus company only 10 days ago, is wanted for rape of his former wife in Pahang in 1988, and is also believed to be sought for a criminal breach of trust case in Subang Jaya in 1994.

"Noor Suzaily's rape also belie the claim made by some political leaders that women are raped and molested because of the way they dress. In spite of her modest dressing, Noor Suzaily was still raped and sodomised," said SIS in a statement.

Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat is currently embroiled in a controversy in which he was reported to have said that scantily-dressed women invite sexual harassment and rape.

"The way women dress is not the cause of rape," said SIS.