The Sabah Welfare Department aims to nullify the marriage between 40-year-old Riduan Masmud and his 13-year-old rape victim. State Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad appealed to the prosecution to go ahead with the statutory rape charge charge against Masmud.
Jainab said she had also directed her officers to take immediate action to have the girl placed under the protection of the department under the Child Act 2001. She added: “This girl is young and cannot decide for herself. She needs counseling and we have to hear her side. She was 12 years and six months old when the alleged offense took place”.
Jainab also casts doubts on the legality of the marriage between Riduan and the girl after checking with Syariah court officials:
“A registrar told me there were two applications one from the man seeking consent to take a second wife, and another from the father of the girl seeking permission for his daughter to marry. They told me the father’s application was allowed but there was no consent given for the man to take a second wife”.
Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of the State of Penang also expressed his disappointment about Masmud marrying his rape victim as a way for him to escape his jail sentence:
“Allowing a rapist to get off scot free from raping a victim and getting off scot-free by marrying her is not only morally outrageous but completely amoral. What safeguards and protections are there left for minors and young underaged girls then from rapists?
The reason that there is a criminal provision for statutory rape is to protect young girls below 16 who had consented to sex without knowing the consequences of their actions. If men can escape statutory rape by marrying the young girls, will this escape clause be extended to all rape victims by encouraging rapists to marry their victims?”
Even netizens are not happy with how Masmud can escape his sentence:
Giving Mahmud the green light to marry his victim only shows that the local government will entitle rapists an escape route from the punishment. Giving him the right to marry his underaged rape victim, even if it was done with consent is symbolic that the rights and protection of children and women in Malaysia no longer exists.