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Wrong message from Court of Appeal

August 11, 2012

FMT LETTER

From Janarthani A, via e-mail

I am deeply disturbed by the decision of the Court of Appeals in which the jail sentence of Nor Afizal Azizan was set aside. I am still baffled by the rationale of this very arbitrary decision. The fact remains that justice was not served in the case of the child who experienced the violence. The judges of the highest courts of the land clearly are more vested in protecting the bright future of a sportsman than that of a sexually violated child.

This speaks volumes of the levels of discrimination displayed by the men on the bench. The rapist is male, privileged because he has standing as a sportsman and obviously of means because he can afford the RM25, 000 fine. Considering that very few rape cases actually get reported as well compounded by the low rate of conviction in the country, it looks as though these judges collude in carrying out a great injustice.

Rape is a criminal act which robs a person of his/her dignity and personhood. These judges have set a dangerous precedent which in effect will discourage survivors of rape from coming forward to seek justice for what happened to them. In effect this judgment encourages the privileged to assume that they are above the law which does nothing to deter rape in this country.

It is a great setback for the rights of women and children in this country. It does not matter if you have laws that protect women and children if those who are supposed to uphold them are negligent in their duties because of their biases. Let us not forget that judges are human beings and a product of their social conditioning. If they have been brought up to accept gender based violence as a norm, this would definitely influence their decisions. As reflected in this case their decision is highly questionable because it is not based on any concept of justice or legal principle.

Despite having ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the state has failed in fulfilling its obligations to women and children. I believe this particular case will attract international attention for the injustice perpetrated against women and children in Malaysia by the state.

In defence of the child involved, she probably had her entire universe shred by the ugly reality of violence. She would have undergone severe psychological trauma as a result of the violence. She would have relived it again when she had to identify her rapist in court which would have brought on even more trauma. After going through all this at such a tender age, she would discover that the perpetrator walked away free without a single sanction for what he did to her. I wonder if the was even a brief consideration of the child’s best interest in the deliberation of the case.

I fear for the women and children in the same predicament if they were ever to seek justice in the courts of this country.


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