MP: Marrying victim shouldn't spare rapist from prosecution
DAP Kulai parliamentarian Teo Nie Ching argues that the courts should not let rapists of underaged girls off the hook just because they marry their young victims.
"Statutory rape is a very serious offence. Section 376 of the Penal Code defines statutory rape as sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 whether or not she has given consent.
"The marriage of the accused and victim does not have the retrospective effect to 'right the wrong'.
"Therefore, how could the court use it as a reason to drop the prosecution proceeding?" said Teo in a statement today.
The DAP assistant national publicity secretary was commenting on a recent case that saw a man, charged with raping a 14-year-old girl, spared from being sent to prison and possible whipping after he married her.
According to reports, the prosecutor in the case, Ahmad Fariz Ahdul Hamid, said the accused, Ahmad Syukri Yusuf, 22, was charged with statutory rape of the girl late last year and faced up to 30 years in jail and whipping for the offence, but was let off the hook after he married the teenager.
According to the prosecutor, the court ruled that there was no need to continue court proceedings after Ahmad Syukri submitted a marriage certificate last week. The girl had also withdrawn her complaint.
Complaint withdrawal questioned
Teo argued, however, that the underaged victim should not have been allowed to withdraw the complaint.
"Underage victims usually do not understand their rights unambiguously and therefore are normally not in the position to make the decision to protect their best interests.
"They can be easily influenced by third parties, even though the decision may affect them adversely.
"In circumstances like this, a child protector, appointed under the Child Act 2001, needs to step in to decide for the victim," said Teo.
But more than just lamenting the fact that a rapist got off scott free, Teo noted that Malaysia's commitment to protect children against child marriage is not working nor being heeded.
"This is not the first time that a rapist is allowed to marry his underage victim, and this is surely not going to be the last," she said.
Teo related the 2013 case when Riduan Masmud, 40, a restaurant manager from Sabah, was allowed to take his 13-year-old victim as his second wife, despite the fact he already had four children aged between three and 18.
Though in that case, unlike the accused in the present case, Riduan was still sentenced to serve 12 years jail and whipping.
Teo said it is time for Malaysia, which adopted the United Nations resolution to end child marriage at the Human Rights Council in October 2013, to honour its pledge and save the country's children from untimely matrimony.