NGOs applaud conviction for child rape
KOTA KINABALU, Feb 4: The Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO), a coalition of concerned NGOs, has praised the conviction and 12-year jail sentence of a restaurant manger here for raping a 12-year-old girl.
“Statutory rape is an abhorrent crime particularly in cases that can be categorised as pedophilia as in this case,” they said in a statement yesterday.
“SAWO is relieved and thankful that Riduan Masmud, the 40-year-old restaurant manager who attempted to escape punishment under the law by marrying his child victim has been convicted by the court.
“This case has created widespread shock and outrage particularly among local and international groups and institutions many of whom have expressed their concern for the wellbeing of the child and the many negative impact of child marriage,” it said.
The case drew the attention of several local and national NGOs who engaged counsels to hold a watching brief amid concern that a Shariah Court ruling to validate the subsequent marriage between the child victim and the father of four would set a precedent and become grounds for mitigation in future such cases.
Also in the spotlight was the jurisdiction of the Islamic court in such cases and the enforcement of the criminal system. “We are glad this court judgment will send a strong message to would be rapists that they cannot prey on young children and teenagers and then to manipulate the system to escape punishment for their criminal acts, SAWO said.
The NGO pointed to a “worrying trend in rape committed against children in the state”.
It said 80% of rape cases reported in the local media last year involved girls under the age of 16 years and constituted statutory rape.
Of this number, it said, 17% could be categorised as pedophilia as the victims were 13 years and below while the rapists were at least five years older.
SAWO also urged the Syariah Court to prioritise the interests of the child in such situations and to review this case and the particular circumstances with a view to annul the marriage. “We further urge the Syariah Court to take a firm stand on all underaged marriage particularly those involving children,” it said.
source: Free Malaysia Today Borneo+
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