Malaysian

7 Other Times M'sian Politicians Have Said Controversial Things About Rape And Sex

Recently, Malaysians had much to rejoice for after the uplifting news of the Parliament passing the Sexual Offences Against Children bill.

With this bill, those under the age of 18 now have more protection from sexual abuse. Anyone found making, possessing or distributing child pornography would be jailed for a term between 5 to 30 years while receiving no less than six strokes of the rotan upon conviction.

But afterwards, another headline created a heated argument. Tasek Gelugor MP, Shabudin Yahaya, commented on how there was “nothing wrong with a rape victim marrying her rapist” after an opposition member made a proposal to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children bill to include a ban on child marriages.

He has since claimed that the media took his statement out of context, explaining that he was referring to existing laws that allow for underaged marriage.

He said he rejected the motion raised by Kulai DAP MP Teo Nie Ching to include child marriage as an offence in the Sexual Offences against Children Bill (2017) as it was in contradiction with Syariah laws.

This hasn’t been the first time that a politician has made controversial comments regarding sexual offence or rape. Here are 7 other sentiments voiced in the recent years by politicians and authorities regarding rape and sex that have made waves of their own.

1) Caning For Out-Of-Wedlock Pregnancies

Last month, a PAS lawmaker by the name of Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad proposed caning unmarried couples who commit illicit sex as punishment to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in the country. He made this suggestion during a question and answer session in Parliament Wednesday regarding pre-teen pregnancies.

This was added onto him commenting that nothing much was being done to protect “innocent” babies born from such unlawful unions.

Currently, Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355 states sentences of up to three years’ jail time, a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan for offences such as zina (unlawful sexual intercourse), qazaf (accusation against one’s chastity) and syurb (alcohol consumption).

But should Act 355 be ammended according to this suggestion, a maximum punishment of up to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes would be imposed.

This met with a few heated responses from the public as well as other politicians who disagreed that caning as a punishment would be successful in instilling the right moral values.

“They are obsessed with punishment instead of ways to improve the welfare of Muslims. They think punishing Muslims will solve the world’s problems,” Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin of former civil servants group G25 was quoted saying.

Lawyer Siti Kasim echoed this sentiment and added that focusing solely on penalising offenders would encourage views that Islam was not a compassionate faith.

“You think that just by whacking, people will change? No, it will never change their behaviour. It should be about educating people.”

2) Child Marriage Is An Answer For Lustful Teens

Image Credit: thestar.com.my

Last year, Datuk Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad also made another controversial suggestion. He said allowing girls under the age of 16 to marry could resolve the issue of premarital sex by teens with “urges”.

The Pasir Puteh MP claims that preventing child marriage would not stop teenagers from having sex freely.

“Nowadays, kids under the age of 16 are already having sex and already have open sexual relationships. If we prevent them from getting married, these urges are still there, so they will be exposed to have sex freely and outside of marriage,” he said while in the Dewan Rakyat.

Many responded back with arguments on how this could be taken the wrong way. Before this suggestion, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR) claimed that child marriages were being used as a solution to statutory rape and girls were forced to marry their rapists.

DAP MP Teo Nie Ching concurred, adding that the practice exacerbated the trauma of the rape victims.

“Like in Sabah, in KK (Kota Kinabalu), a 14-year-old married her rapist that was over the age of 40. After that the rapist was convicted in court. But what happens to the child? Her husband is sent to jail over a crime, but she married the man who raped her. That’s why we need amendments to protect the rights of the child,” she said.

Nik Mazian then argued back saying that if the intercourse had been consensual, it supported his assertion that teens have sexual urges, which he described as a “big problem”.

3) Focus On The Issue Of Sexual Crimes, Not Child Marriage

Last month saw many MPs discussing the new law the government drafted to combat sexual crimes against children. However, UMNO MP Azalina Othman said the focus should be on sexual crime, not on other issues such as child marriage.

This was brought up after DAP MP Teo Nie Ching urged the government to include a ban on child marriage in the new law.

“In my opinion, we should look at what the criminal elements are today. This law is more for the criminal element,” said Azalina told reporters during the closing ceremony of a two-day national seminar on child sexual crimes.

Nie Ching called Azalina’s excuse as “pathetic” and that she is missing the elephant in the room on child marriages as having sex with underage girls is a crime in and of itself. The issue with those words is that it comes across that child marriage is not a crime, or is less of a crime compared to other sexual crimes.

“Having sex with underage girls is a crime as defined in Section 376 of the Penal Code. It is called statutory rape,” said Nie Ching.

4) Sex Education Won’t Curb Illicit Sex

Image Credit: themalaysianmirror.com

In a joint statement last year, the Malaysian Paediatric Association and College of Paediatrics, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia said that sex education should be taught in Malaysia from preschool to keep young children safe from sexual abuse.

A PAS lawmaker responded to this by stating that sex education will not prevent illicit sex even if it helps reduce illegitimate births. He asserted that sex education only treated the outcomes of premarital sex, not the act itself.

“In fact, at one time, I saw an advertisement in Medan Mara in Kuala Lumpur when I was passing by that area. The advertisement was put up by an agency advertising the use of condoms. In the advertisement, a man asks a woman to go the beach and that woman said ‘no condom, no way’.

“Meaning, this is just to (advertise) the use of condoms, not to prevent illegitimate sex or adultery,” said Nasrudin.

5) Uncovered Women Are To Blame For Crimes Against Other Women.

2 years back, Federal Territories’ Islamic authorities held a Friday sermon where they blamed women who do not cover their aurat (intimate body parts) for the rampant social ills such as rape, which affects even those who do.

The sermon also had them comparing uncovered women to uncovered dishes, which they claim are “bound to frequented by flies” which makes them “unappetising”.

“Let us think, what will happen if a dish is not covered? Surely flies will go to the dish, subsequently making those who love the dish lose their appetite. Looking at today’s social ills, it is worrying. When women fail to cover their aurat perfectly, it will open the door to vices,” said the sermon.

Safe to say that this riled up many parties, including DAP MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid who said the sermon was misogynistic and chauvinistic, particularly as it was delivered to a purely male audience.

“This simply reeks of the type of misogyny and chauvinism that is often promoted by extremist groups like the Taliban and Isis. In general, the basis of fundamentalism shows very little respect for the principles of human rights, have zero tolerance for people of other faiths, and are often anti-women. Regrettably, our society has now shown signs of accepting such vile ideologies,” said Syerleena in a statement.

Syerleena said such gross display of misogyny has never been part of Islamic values and though she concurred that dressing with modesty, be it for male or female, falls in line with Islam’s cultural values, she said there were better ways to get the message across.

6) Does Marital Rape Even Happen?

Image Credit: thestar.com.my

Refuting DAP MP Teresa Kok’s statement that criminalising marital rape was a “challenge”, the Woman’s Aid Organisation (WAO) dismissed these challenges, saying it should not be used as an excuse to explain why forced sex during marriage cannot be recognised as a crime.

Teresa’s argument was that the term “marital rape” was difficult to place within the context of the law as it was difficult to prove. She went on to say that was why the act of a husband causing hurt to his wife with the purpose of soliciting sex was an offence under Section 375A of the Penal Code.

WAO advocacy manager Yu Ren Chung disagreed, telling people not to be too “hung up” with the term “marital rape”.

“We don’t need to create a new law that criminalises rape in a marriage. Section 375 of the Penal Code defines rape, but then adds an exception that states it is not rape if the act is committed by a husband against the wife,” said Ren Chung.

He adds on that this would give the impression that husbands were “permitted” to rape their wives, which should not be the case. So aside from establishing marital rape as a new offence, the government actually just needed to remove the exception to the law.

7) The Selva Kumar Debate

You might have heard of Selva Kumar, a serial rapist convicted of sexually assaulting over 1,000 women.

Many were frightened upon the news that he was being deported back to Malaysia after staying in Canada for many years, which led some politicians to voice out suggestions on how to handle his return.

One of them proposed that sex offenders should be allowed to be punished more than once for the same offence. A DAP MP by the name of Ramkarpal Singh responded to this suggestion as unconstitutional.

“There can be no doubt that sexual offences are possibly the most heinous of crimes which ought to be severely punished but Heng’s suggestion cannot be entertained as same flies in the face of Article 7(2) of the Federal Constitution,” said Ramkarpal.

Wanita MCA chairman, Datuk Heng Seai Kie, responded back by saying it was regrettable that Ramkarpal had depicted the wing’s call for a sex offenders registry to safeguard “would-be victims” of convicted rapist Selva Kumar Subbiah as a contravention of the Federal Constitution.

Seai Kie went on to point out that Wanita PKR chairperson Zuraida Kamaruddin took a similar stance when she called for Selva Kumar to be placed under lock and key.

“In fact, Wanita PKR’s call to punish him in Malaysia for sex offences committed in Canada is akin to copying our call on double jeopardy,” said Seai Kie.

She advised the opposition parties to properly look into the reasoning behind MCA’s proposal about enacting laws so that Malaysians who committed sex offences overseas must face charges back home.

“Protecting would-be victims, providing support to rape victims to recover and lead a normal life, and ensuring that sex offenders do not repeat their aggression must take precedence. Politicians, irrespective of political affiliation, should not merely criticise and object to constructive proposals which are beneficial to the public,” said Seai Kie.

So What?

So why did we compile all these comments from politicians and organisations from the past year or so?

It’s important that people know what are the thoughts of the people leading our nation and setting our growth and direction.

Politicians have platforms where they can be heard and the power to change laws, so every word they say has weight. Even for the issue of child marriage, there are those who straight up accept it as statutory rape, but there are others who feel that it can be a solution to circumstantial issues.

These comments are recent and show us the thinking and reasoning of the people setting the order of the land. When it comes to sex, and particularly rape or sexual assault, our country still has some ways to go before the laws of the land truly protect the victims and fully criminalise sexual offenses.

We keep going back to this, but the first step is always about educating and raising awareness. At the moment, Malaysians are at a disadvantage from the start. After all, our version of sex education in schools is purely anatomical, with very little else.

Right now, most our country defaults to the abstinence-until-marriage view when it comes to sex, which means that a lot of information is not spoken about.

Instead, there should be a move towards a more comprehensive sexuality education, which the UN recognises as important for humans to know their own rights. Malaysian citizens should be educated all aspects of sexuality, not just the mechanics but also emotional relations and responsibilities, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.

As an aside, should anyone be facing anything related to sexual assault or rape, here are some NGOs and centers that are working to help.

Feature Image Credit: NST Online

 

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