KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan tonight took aim at comments made by a fellow parliamentarian who had suggested that rape victims would have a better chance at living a fulfilling life if they marry their rapists.
Abdul Rahman, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said it was “abhorrent” to suggest that a rapist, who should be prosecuted, has the means to escape legal responsibility by marrying his victim.
He said he was shocked and disappointed upon reading the comments made by Tasek Gelugor Member of Parliament Datuk Shabudin Yahya at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
“Every child has the right to live, to dream, and to have fun. 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.
“It is with that convictions in mind that I believe laws are enacted to protect our children – especially underage girls,” he said via a statement tonight.
The laws, said Rahman, under Section 375(G)of the Penal Code state that it is considered statutory rape for a man to have sex with a girl under 16 years of age – with or without her consent.
Yesterday, Shabudin told the Dewan Rakyat that rape victims can have an opportunity to lead a healthy and good life if they marry their rapists.
He was quoted as saying that some girls aged between nine to 12 are “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.
“They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12 and at that time, the physical state of their body is already akin to those 18 years of age.
“For a wife who was raped, if she can marry (the rapist) 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 said while debating the Child Sexual Offences Bill here today.
He said this when objecting an amendment to the bill, which was proposed by DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching 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 with no major changes.
In explaining further the reason for his opinion, Shabudin pointed out that it is also not fair to assume that a person who committed a sexual offence “will continue being a bad person.”