|Groups want harsher penalties for statutory rape offenders|
|Wednesday, 29 August 2012 08:37am|
©The Sun (Used by permission)
by Michelle Chun
PETALING JAYA (Aug 28, 2012): Children rights groups have expressed concern over the growing trend whereby adults who commit statutory rape on minors are being bound over for time for good behaviour.
Calling for harsher penalties, a Children's Protection Society spokesman who declined to be named said the perpetrators were adults and capable of understanding the implications of such actions.
"This involves minors, and if the perpetrators keep getting bound over, would it not become the norm? There should be harsher penalties, as the perpetrators are very aware of what they're doing.
"And the penalties should be harsh if the minor is of a very young age," the spokesman said, adding that whether the act was consensual was irrelevant.
National bowler Nor Afizal Azizan was bound over for five years for good behaviour after having sex, albeit consensual, with a 13-year-old girl in 2009.
In the verdict, Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Mohd Raus Sharif has said a lengthy prison sentence would have been imposed if Nor Afizal had, among others, been older (he was 19 then), forced or tricked the girl into the act, or failed to cooperate with the police.
Yesterday, Chuah Guan Jiu, 22, was bound over for three years for good behaviour after he was found guilty of raping his 12-year-old girlfriend twice last year.
Judge Sitarun Nisa Abdul Aziz said Chuah was still young and the act had been consensual, adding he had no criminal background.
However, Sisters in Islam member Rozana Isa said there should be guidelines for the judiciary in dealing with statutory rape cases.
"These guidelines should take into consideration circumstances, the minor's age and the power relationship between the accused and victim," she said.
Protect and Save the Children executive director P. Nagasayee Malathy said such verdicts do not protect the rights of children.
"It is a gross violation of child rights. When a person is below 18, whether the act is consensual or not, as a minor his or her 'consent' is not valid," she said.
Childline Malaysia project officer Michelle Wong said due consideration should be given to the victims, as court decisions in these cases were always supporting the perpetrators without acknowledging the impact of the experience on the child victims.
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