Under fire over rape remark, Umno MP now threatens to sue media

By Opalyn Mok
Lim Guan Eng has repeatedly said he will be tabling a motion to condemn Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (pic) over his remarks on child marriages. — Bernama pic

SEBERANG PERAI, April 7 ― Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya has threatened to sue the reporters and media organisations that had "twisted" his words to make it appear as if he condoned rape victims marrying their rapists.

The former Shariah court judge told a press conference this morning that what he said during his debate in Parliament two days ago were spun by certain media which then led to a huge polemic.

"Unethical and irresponsible media used what I said in the debate to spin it and unfairly confused the public with false reports," he claimed.

He said if the video of his debate is scrutinised in its entirety, he never said that rapists who forced themselves on their victims should marry their victims to get lighter sentences for their offence.

"I was talking about consensual sex between a couple where the girl is underage, which by law was termed as statutory rape, I was not talking about forced rape," he said.

He stressed that he was referring to the Shariah law that has a provision for Muslim girls under 16 and boys under 18 to get married with the condition of obtaining approval from the Shariah court.

"In Malaysian civil law, if girls under 16 had sexual intercourse with her boyfriend, it is classified as statutory rape and I was referring to this, not to forced rape,"

"Statutory rape is called rape but it could be consensual sex between a dating couple where the girl is underage, for example, between a 20-year-old boy and a 15 years and 10 month old girl," he said.

He explained that young couples may have had consensual sex which led to pregnancy and this is where the Shariah law comes in to "correct a mistake" by allowing the young Muslim couple to get married so that the baby is not born out of wedlock.

"I was not talking about victims who were forcibly raped, I was talking about consensual sex between a young couple and they are in love and they made a mistake so the Shariah law has a provision to allow them to correct it by getting married so that the girl will have a future and the baby will also have a future," he said.

He said, in his debate, he had opposed the proposed amendment to the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 to include banning child marriages under 16 years of age.

"I was saying that by banning marriages for those under 16, it may lead to Muslim girls, who got pregnant by their boyfriends, being abandoned and left to fend for themselves while their babies will also be born out of wedlock and the boy don't have to be responsible for it so where is the justice in that?" he asked.

He said during his tenure as a Shariah court judge, he had approved marriages for young underage couples before and some of them are happily married till today.

As for calls asking for his resignation, Shabudin brushed it aside as a political agenda by those who don't understand Islam and the Shariah law.

"I know, it's politicians who called for me to resign and the one who took the lead to call for me to resign is a non-Muslim who doesn't understand Islam, it's a lack of knowledge of Islam," he said.

He also brushed aside condemnation hurled at him by the public, particularly on social media, and said that the public doesn't understand the technicalities of the law.

"I don't expect the public to understand the Shariah law and the technicalities of the law but why are some threatening to rape my daughter, what is wrong with Malaysians? People are making such threats without fully understanding the whole issue," he said.

Shabudin has been under fire in the last two days after he was reported as saying that rape victims should be allowed to marry their rapists as a remedy to social problems.

He reportedly said it would be "safer" for the rape victims to marry their rapists and has also suggested that even nine-year-old girls are "physically and spiritually" ready for marriage.