KUALA LUMPUR: Sisters in Islam (SIS) said it was shocking and deplorable for Tasek Gelugor member of parliament Datuk Shabudin Yahaya to say that rape survivors will have a better and more secure future by marrying their rapist.
In a statement yesterday, SIS said Shabudin’s suggestion undermined the severity and emotional trauma experienced by a rape survivor.
SIS said Shabudin was ignorant that rape was a crime punishable under federal law as the Penal Code criminalised statutory rape if the victim is under 16, even if it is claimed that she consented to sexual intercourse.
“Allowing the perpetrator to marry his victim allows him to escape prosecution and severely undermines not just a law to protect children, but the Islamic principle of justice.”
SIS said to suggest that marriage and statutory rape could be conflated was a mockery of Islam.
It said marriage in Islam was about love, compassion, mutual respect and mutual responsibility between husband and wife, a union of mawaddah wa rahmah.
“As such, there cannot be love and compassion if there is an unfair balance of power between the spouses and a threat of sexual abuse in the marriage right from the start.
“How can there be mawaddah wa rahmah when a marriage is solemnised as a way to absolve a crime and guilt of a rapist?
“While syariah does not provide a specific age vis-a-vis marriage, it talks about maturity as a prerequisite for anyone to enter into marriage,” said the non-governmental organisation that promotes the rights of Muslim women.
SIS also reiterated its call for the minimum age of marriage for girls to be reviewed and raised to 18 years old.
Citing a study by Al Azhar University and United Nations Children’s Fund on the rights of the child, SIS said there was a clear difference between reaching puberty, and maturity, and the ability to manage life.
“Married life necessitates that both husband and wife are enlightened and sensible. It is not, therefore, served by the marriage of children.
“No child aged 9, whether girl or boy, whether possessing more mature physical attributes or not, can ever be ready for marriage and all the responsibilities it entails.
“If nothing else, such a child is not able to fend for themselves, let alone a spouse.”
Shabudin told reporters in Parliament yesterday that what he said had been taken out of context.