Minister: Marrying victims won't save rapists

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said says statutory rape laws clearly prohibit sexual relations with minors. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said says statutory rape laws clearly prohibit sexual relations with minors. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Marriage will not allow rapists to escape punishment for their crime, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said today.

Responding to the controversy surrounding an Umno lawmaker's suggestion that rapists be permitted to marry their child victims, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department also said statutory rape laws clearly prohibit sexual relations with minors.

Commenting on public questions about whether such marriages could allow the rapists to avoid prosecution, she said this was not true.

“Offenders will not escape punishment if they have sexual relations with those below the age of 16 and may be charged under Section 376 (2) of the Penal Code,” she wrote on Facebook today.

The section allows for between five and 30 years' jail upon conviction.

She also called for an end to the controversy surrounding Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahya's comments yesterday, and asked all parties to focus on addressing sexual offences against the young.

“Hopefully the issue that involves children will be more effectively addressed once the Child Sexual Offences Bill is passed,” she added.

Shabudin yesterday said in Parliament that rape victims could avoid a “bleak” future if their rapists were allowed to marry them, when debating the Bill.

Shabudin said that it was unfair to "assume" that a sexual offender will continue being a “bad person.”

He was responding to Teo Nie Ching (Kulai-DAP) who wanted the Bill amended to prohibit child marriages.