Sources: Bikyamasr | Malaysian News
There has been public outrage and concern at what appears to be a legal trend of letting convicted child rapists avoid jail sentences, following two recent cases where two young men were each released on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond.
Former national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu, were 19 and 21 respectively when they committed the offence of statutory rape on girls who were then aged 13 and 12.
Noor Afizal and Chuah were found guilty of raping the underaged girls, but were not jailed. They were bound over for five years and three years respectively on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond.
Noor Afizal had taken a 13-year-old girl to a hotel to spend the night with her and claimed consensual sex. Chuah Guan Jiu had “coaxed” a 12-year-old schoolgirl to go to his flat instead of to school.
The relatively young age of the two rapists was cited in both cases as one of the reasons for keeping them out of jail.
In both cases, the courts also considered the sex acts consensual even though issue of consent is irrelevant in statutory rape cases.
Malaysian law prescribes the age of sexual consent for girls to be 16 years and above.
Both national bowler Noor Afizal and Chuah may also be classified as paedophiles, according to international medical standards and psychiatrists here, suggesting the courts may have freed sexual predators who might repeat their crime.
The World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) categorises paedophilia as “a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of pre-pubertal or early pubertal age.”
And according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by mental health professionals globally, paedophilia is the sexual attraction to pubescent or pre-pubescents aged 13 or younger, and the subject must be 16 or older with the child at least five years younger.
Noor Afizal was 19 when he committed the offence while the girl he raped was 13, or six years his junior.
In the case of Chuah, he was 21 at the time of the offence, while his victim was 12 ― a nine-year gap between the two.
The age difference between perpetrator and victim in both cases falls within both the ICD and DSM criteria for paedophilia.
The government ministry also pointed out that Malaysia was a party to both the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
As Malaysia had ratified the two conventions, it was the government’s responsibility to protect women and children from any exploitation, violence or abuse, the ministry said.
“My daughter is 13-years-old at the moment. There is no reasonable explanation that would give her the knowledge and life experience to have sexual relations at this age,” said Kuala Lumpur mother Farida, who told Bikyamasr.com “the government is trying to save face after allowing a 19-year-old to get away without jail for raping a 13-year-old girl. There is no reason to think she knew what she was doing.”
Nor Afizal Azizan had admitted having sex with the girl in a hotel room in 2010.
The court in a statement had said that because he was only 19-years-old at the time and had not coerced the girl, they believed prison would have been too harsh.
The judges were reported to have agreed with Azizan’s lawyer, who argued that “public interest would not be served if Noor Afizal was sent to jail as he had a bright future.”
The Joint Action Group For Gender Equality, which comprises 6 leading Malaysian women’s groups, in a statement called on the judiciary to clarify its decision.
“We are troubled that the perpetrator’s potential for ‘a bright future’, presumably derived from his status as a national athlete, was used as one of the grounds for sentencing,” it said.
“On the surface, the judgment appears to hint at the application of a double standard by implying that anyone with the right ‘credentials’ can commit a crime, and get away with a rap on the knuckles,” it added.