Life is not black and white. But however much one tries to understand the Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, who said a 12-year-old rape victim, who was married-off to her rapist was doing fine, no-one, in their right mind, could truly agree with her.
In fact, many found her remarks to be downright offensive and repugnant.
Does Rohani know the psychological and physical trauma rape victims go through? A girl who has been “taken” by force may suffer bruises, tears and damage to her internal organs, never mind the mental torture of being sexually violated against her will.
If her rapist had a sexually transmitted disease and passed it on to her, her health would be at risk as well. Her young body, especially her pelvic area, is not even ready for childbirth.
If the minister has no doctor friends, I can recommend that she speak to various doctor friends of mine, and other medical staff, who have had to counsel and treat child rape victims.
They will relate horrific stories of young girls who become shadows of their former selves after the ordeal of rape. They lose all self-confidence and are fearful of venturing out of the home without the safety and comfort of their parents.
A child who is raped has her future robbed from her. She cannot return to her former school and pretend that nothing happened. If she has to stay away from school to go through pregnancy, what sort of a life is she saddled with? She is but a child herself, but now has to play the role of mother.
She will be aware that other children will call her a tainted and fallen woman, behind her back. Young girls can be cruel creatures. Moreover, the parents of her former friends, may not want their daughters, or sons, to associate with her at school.
Her education will be curtailed, and without a decent education she will have no skills to improve her life. Her rapist may repeat his crime against other young girls, and marry them, too. No woman wants to be in a harem of her rapist’s other conquests.
What if her husband tires of her, as his marriage to her was not based on love, but to escape prosecution? What if he discards her for another woman? As an uneducated and unskilled woman, her future is bleak. Who will take care of her children, if she has any, whilst she goes to school, or work?
All parents wish the best for their children. So, when it comes to choosing a life-long partner, most parents wish to approve of their child’s spouse.
One is sure that if Rohani had a daughter, she would want her to marry someone from a good family, who is strong and healthy, who is hardworking, not a wife beater, nor a drunkard and most certainly not someone who is too lazy to go out to work, nor a criminal or worse yet, a rapist.
Counselling is not the panacea for a rape victim. Whilst we are on the subject of child rape, why did this girl receive counselling, whereas the Penan women and girls, who were raped in 2008, were denied support?
Rohani should apologise to all Malaysian women.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.
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