A Malaysian MP was slammed for his offensive statements against girls. He said girls as young as nine were “physically” and “spiritually” ready for marriage. On Tuesday the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country passed a law on sexual offences against children without criminalising child marriage.
After an opposition member of parliament amended the Sexual Offences against Children bill to include a ban on child marriages, a member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, Shabudin Yahaya made these comments.
He said, “They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12. And at that time, their body is already akin to them being 18 years old. So physically and spiritually, it is not a barrier for the girl to marry.”
He also stated that a rape victim can marry her rapist and there was nothing wrong in it as she would not then face a “bleak future”.
His comments created rage on social media. Even some opposition politicians wanted him to be fired.
He said he opposed banning child marriages as they are different to provisions in Islamic law, which allows children younger than 16 to be married if Sharia courts allow it.
The lecturer of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Rashid Moten said authorise this type of marriage to resolve the crime would be an injustice for the victim. “Psychologically, the victim would be traumatised by what happened to her. How can she be happy in the marriage after she’s been violated?”
He said this would be offensive not just to Islam but to any civilisation.
But the former Sharia court judge Mr. Shabudin denied he made such comment that a rape victim must marry her rapist. He said, “But if (the marriage happens) – we may never know, this is the power of God – perhaps the woman and man are remorseful, repents, or he proposes that he marry the woman – there shouldn’t be objections.”
Under both civil law and Islamic law, girls and boys under 18 can be married. According to the civil law, the minimum age of marriage is 18 years but those above 16 years can be married with the permission of state’s chief minister.
According to the Islamic law, children younger than 16 can get married if the Shariah courts allow it. But the law which passed on Tuesday had no mention of child marriage.
The law also criminalises for making and possessing pornography involving those under 18. The maximum penalty is a jail term of up to 30 years and six strokes of the whip for making, possessing or distributing child pornography.
Last year, Reuters reported several complaints of child sexual assault in Malaysia do not get a successful trial. Between 2012 and July 2014, only 140 of the 12,987 cases of child sexual abuse reported to police resulted in convictions.
Also, there are several cases where a rapist married his victim including those under 18 to avoid prosecution.