PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said has dismissed the idea that rapists can escape prosecution by marrying their victims.
In a statement today, she said any case involving an individual who has had sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16, with or without the child’s consent, would be categorised as rape.
“Such individuals can be charged under Section 376 (2) of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail sentence of between five and 30 years. They can also be whipped,” she said.
Azalina’s comments come amid a furore over Tasik Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahya’s remarks yesterday suggesting that rapists marry their underage victims.
The Umno MP had told the Dewan Rakyat that there was nothing wrong with a minor getting married to her rapist, adding that it would be good for the girl as she would otherwise face a bleak future.
His statement was met with strong opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the political divide.
Weighing in on the matter today, Azalina said authorities would launch an investigation if they received a police report on rape.
“However, this depends on the jurisdiction of the public prosecutor and the existing evidence to initiate and continue with a prosecution in court,” she said.
“This issue should not be twisted by any party as it needs to be resolved together for the sake of the future generation.”
She also expressed hope that the passing in Parliament of the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 would allow authorities to handle such matters in a more efficient manner.