Malaysian MP, Shabudin Yahaya, causes controversy with his latest claim. On Tuesday, April 4th, during the debate on the Sexual Offences against Children Bill of 2017 in Parliament, Shabudin caused outrage with his perturbing remark. The Malaysian MP stated that there is nothing wrong with rape victims marrying their rapist. In fact, he stated that marrying their rapist could lead victims to a “better life”.
He called it a “social problem remedy“.
Despite rape being considered a criminal act, Shabudin said that both, the rapist and the victim, should be given a second chance. The MP tried to reason, saying that rape victims often live a miserable life, but if they marry their rapist they would have a husband at least.
The official legal marrying age for Muslims in Malaysia is of 18 for both genders. However, a 16-year-old girl can be married with the permission of parents and a religious court, which is usually the case. Shabudin claimed that girls reach puberty from ages nine to twelve, and once they have reached puberty their body is as ready as an 18-year-old for marriage. According to the Malaysian MP, young girls are “physically” and “spiritually” ready for marriage as soon as they reach puberty.
His words caused outrage among the media.
Shabudin Yahaya later retracted his words, blaming the media for taking them out of context. He tried to remend his words by saying that in order for such marriage to take place, the girl must reach puberty first and there must be parental and court permission.
His words were clear. There is no sugar-coating to what he stated before. Context or not, it does not make it right. His words take away from the severity of rape crimes, saying it’s okay for victims and their rapist to marry, saying that it will allow for the both, the victim and the rapist to have a healthier life. What kind of message is he sending to young girls and rape victims?
Meanwhile, the Sexual Offences against Children Bill of 2017 has been passed. This bill will provide counselling for sexual offenders while in prison.
MP Teo Nie Ching had proposed to ban child marriage, unfortunately, her proposition did not pass and child marriage remains legal. She urged her fellow MPs to support her proposal saying that “a paedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children. A paedophile is a criminal. But those who marry underage girls are not?”
Her proposal was dismissed in a claim that the bill was regarding sexual assault, not a child marriage.