Supporters of a Malaysian MP are expecting a backlash after he insisted there is nothing wrong with a rape victim marrying the rapist.
Mr Shabudin Yahaya also told Parliament in Kuala Lumpur that some girls as young as nine were ‘physically and spiritually’ ready for marriage.
‘When we discuss 12 and 15 year olds, we don’t see their physical bodies because some children aged 12 or 15, their bodies are like 18-year-old women,’ he said.
Mr Shabudin, a former Shariah court judge, pointed out that some girls reached puberty when they were as young as nine, making them physically and spiritually ready for marriage – ‘so it’s not impossible for them to get married.’
And he said there was nothing wrong with a rape victim marrying her rapist as this could serve as a remedy to an increasing number of social problems.
The Star newspaper reported that Mr Shabudin made his comments when debating the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 after several opposition lawmakers suggested amending it to include child marriages as an offence.
Agreeing that rape is a criminal offence, Mr Shabudin said the rapist and the victim should be ‘given a second chance to turn a new leaf in life.
‘Perhaps through marriage they can lead a healthier, better life – and the person who was raped does not necessarily have a bleak future.
‘She will have a husband, at least, and this could serve as a remedy to growing social problems.’
Another MP, Ms Teo Nie Ching, referred to two cases in which the victims married their attackers but argued that the marriages ended up becoming more problematic, causing more hurt.
One of the cases, she said, involved a 35-year-old man who married a 14-year-old with a disability after allegedly raping her.
The man then reportedly raped his 11-year-old sister-in-law and forced his wife to film him committing the act.
But Mr Shabudin said it should not be assumed that rapists remained bad people.
Ms Teo’s motion to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill to include child marriages as an offence was defeated.
Mr Shabudin’s comments suggesting that rapists should be allowed to marry their victims came under attack today from other Malaysian lawmakers.
MP Takyuddin Hassan said the idea that social ills could be solved by a rapist-victim marriage was severely misguided.
‘Underaged marriage is allowed in Islam, do doubt about that – but rape is a criminal offence and is religiously wrong,’ said Mr Takyuddin.
‘We cannot stop parents from marrying off their daughters to the abusers, but personally I would never allow that to happen.
‘Why would you want to give away your daughter to someone who had ruined your child’s life? It’s unacceptable,’ he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
Ms Teo questioned what would happen to the child wife if an abuser husband was charged under the Penal Code.
The Star newspaper said that other MPs agreed that although the law allows child marriage, the view that children are ready to be married because they have the body of an adult should be corrected.
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