Child marriage opens rape case minefield

Child marriage

KUALA LUMPUR: The PAS’s prescription of marriage as a “medicine” to curb statutory rape will only open the door to more rape cases, said women’s rights activist Ivy Josiah.

In an interview with FMT, the former Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) executive director strongly criticised the Islamist party for advocating child marriage because it created an environment that led to a greater proliferation of child rape cases.

“Instead of arguing that men have to be educated not to rape, we have now instead justified and opened up a bigger space for more rapes to take place. After all, what’s then going to stop a 40-year-old from having sex with a 15-year-old?” she asked. “You’re creating an environment for more of this to happen.”

Ivy called PAS’s tacit support of child marriage “disappointing and alarming”, given Malaysia’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

She elaborated: “It is not reasonable to have our children married. They have a right to education and to find out who they are. Are we saying that men are so incredibly weak that they cannot control themselves and must have sex with children?”

“They’re essentially justifying the violation of children. This is extremely alarming.”

She argued that the federal government should raise the legal marriage age to 18 regardless of gender, and to revise the current syariah laws and remove the discretion given to syariah judges to give permission for marriages to minors.

“I’ve said it before; the federal government should put all the ulamas together in one room and say: “Can we do one thing for children? Open up their lives and let them continue educating themselves and finding out who they are before letting them choose.”