KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The future of rape victims is “not bleak” if they are married to their rapists, Umno’s Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahya said today.
Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat while debating the Child Sexual Offences Bill, Shabudin said that marriage between a victim and her rapist can in fact help solve social problems.
“The thing is they have an opportunity — with a marriage they can lead a healthy and good life,” he said during the committee stage debate of the Bill.
“For a wife that was raped, if she can marry (the person) she would not go through such a bleak future. At least she has someone who can become her husband. So this will be a remedy to social problems,” he added.
Shabudin said so while objecting to an amendment to the Bill proposed by Teo Nie Ching (Kulai-DAP), who wanted the Bill to be amended to also spell out the invalidity of child marriages.
The proposed amendment was voted down and the Bill was subsequently passed without any major changes.
Shabudin said that it is not fair to “assume” that a person committed a sexual offence will continue being a “bad person”.
“Maybe he repents, or regrets. It is better to have people who regret rather than people who do not regret. So in this case, let us not put an assumption that the person will remain bad. (Marriage) can be an exit clause for this problem,” he said.
He also said that physically and spiritually it is not a problem to marry off girls aged between 9 to 12 years old.
“They reach puberty at the age of 9, or 12. And at that time, the physical state of their body is already akin to them being 18 years old,” he said.
“So physically and spiritually it is not a barrier for the girl to marry,” he added.
Shabudin was defending existing provisions which allows minors to be married off as long as their parents or guardians seek permission from the Shariah Courts.
There is limited data about child marriages in Malaysia, but it was previously reported that around 15,000 girls below the age of 19 are married in the country.
The new Bill by Putrajaya criminalises sexual connection without consent to minors aged 18 and below, but provisions allowing child marriages was not addressed in the Bill.