KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan hit out at his Umno colleague Datuk Shabudin Yahya for suggesting that rape victims be married to their attackers, saying that he was “shocked” and “disappointed” with the remarks made by the Tasek Gelugor MP.
Shabudin had earlier today said that the future of rape victims would not be bleak if they are married to their rapists, and that marriage between a victim and her rapist can in fact help solve social problems.
“I just came across an article about the comments of Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahya in Parliament in respect of underage marriages and marriages between victims and rapists with utter shock and disappointment,” Abdul Rahman said in a statement tonight.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department pointed out that every child has the right to live and to dream, and that while it is the parents’ responsibility to provide a decent childhood for their children, the government and lawmakers have the responsibility to protect the best interest of Malaysian children.
He added that laws have been enacted to protect children and underage girls, and that according to Malaysian Penal Code Section 375 (g) it is considered statutory rape for a man to have sex with a girl under 16 years of age, with or without her consent.
“Therefore, it is abhorrent in this 21st century to suggest that a rapist — who should in the first place be prosecuted — has the means to escape legal responsibility simply by marrying his victim,” Abdul Rahman added, in response to his Umno colleague.
Shabudin was speaking in the Dewan Rakyat while debating the Child Sexual Offences Bill, and was defending existing provisions which allow 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.