KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - There is nothing wrong with a rape victim marrying the rapist, according to a Barisan Nasional lawmaker who even suggested that some nine-year-olds were "physically and spiritually" ready for marriage.
Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, in trying to refute Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja), said that some 12- and 15-year-old girls looked older than their actual ages.
"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," Shabudin told the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (April 4).
The former Syariah court judge added that some girls who reached puberty when they were as young as nine years old were "physically and spiritually" ready for marriage.
"So it's not impossible for them to get married," Shabudin said, adding that there was "nothing wrong" with a rape victim marrying the rapist as it could serve as a "remedy" to the increasing number of social problems.
Shabudin said this when debating the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 after several Opposition lawmakers suggested amending it to include child marriages as an offence.
He said that although rape is a criminal offence, 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," he said.
Dr Siti Mariah, however, argued that allowing the rapist to marry the victim would not guarantee a better life.
"I don't agree with marrying off the victim to the rapist. If the rapist repents, maybe that's fine, but what if the husband is 'haprak' (useless)?" she said.
Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Kulai) cited two cases of the victims marrying the attackers, and argued that the marriages ended up becoming more problematic, causing more hurt.
She said that one of the cases involved a 35-year-old man in Negri Sembilan 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.
Citing his experience as a judge, Shabudin, however, said that Teo should not generalise the issue as there have been many cases where such marriages did not end in divorce.
"The girl becomes safer when she is married rather than when she is left alone. Don't assume they (rapists) remain bad people," he said.
Teo's motion to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill to include child marriages as an offence was ultimately defeated by a voice vote.