Letting off an accused person charged with raping an underage girl just because he is a sports personality is outrageous.
She was 13. A 21-year-old man had sex with her. According to the Penal Code, sex with an under-age girl is statutory rape. He pleaded guilty. Today he is free. All he has to do is fork out RM25,000 and be on his best behaviour for the next five years.
This is the brief of a statutory rape case with an outrageous ruling.
Now, let’s get to the details. The accused person is national tenpin bowling ace Noor Afizal Azizan.
Taking into account that he is a national champion, the Court of Appeal ruled that a jail term is not in the public interest as Noor Afizal has a promising future.
This is shocking.
When the case was first heard in the Sessions Court, the judge ruled that Noor Afizal must be bound by a five-year term for good behaviour and slapped a penalty of RM25,000 on him. But he also said that it was a consensual act.
Sex with a 13-year-old is consensual? Really? Bollocks.
When the prosecution appealed the case, the High Court ruled that Noor Afizal serves a five-year jail term. But semblance of justice for the victim, a child, remains elusive with the recent ruling.
It’s difficult to comprehend the judgment, which can only be described as reckless. It has failed to take into account the abuse endured by the victim – the emotional, mental and physical well-being, not to mention a crushed future.
In short, the accused person has robbed the child of her childhood. I can only imagine her trauma.
A grotesque precedence
On a deeper level, the ruling reflects the state of judiciary in the country, which seem to signal that rapists can have a “get out of jail free” token if they hold an important position in society, have a great future, are famous and with a fat bank balance.
The judgment has endorsed rape and set a grotesque precedence. It has also clearly shown that the country’s judicial system is incapable of delivering justice to victims, especially children.
What kind of a society are we becoming? What kind of values are we teaching our younger generation?
We live in an environment where sex between consenting adults are open to moral policing. We live in a society that is quick to condemn homosexuality and same sex marriage.
What do we have to say about this ruling? A ruling which has allowed a rapist to walk the streets free?
I call upon child rights advocates, human rights organisations, civil society members, media workers, lawmakers, senators and the public to denounce this judgment.
In coming together, we bring with us the hope that the child victim gets justice at the Federal Court.
I pledge solidarity with the victim’s family throughout this ordeal.
Charles Santiago is DAP’s Klang MP.