24 SEPTEMBER 2002
We the following women’s organisations are deeply disturbed by the grounds for acquittal of Razali Pilen given by the Kuala Lumpur’s Sessions Court Judge, Mohd Saman Mohd Ramli on 24.09.2002.
The learned judge had highlighted these facts:
• that both women did not push Razali away or scream;
• there was no medical evidence of any bruises;
• the women were married and had children;
• both women took their clothes off;
• three (3) days delay in lodging a police report;
• the incident was done in a well-lit place and the door was unlocked;
• there were tv monitors in the ‘control’ room; and
• both survivors had entered the country illegally.
The learned judge had also reportedly stated that the ‘sexual intercourse here seems voluntarily, just like between husband and wife’.
We are outraged and are in disbelief that these statements are still being made in this day and age. It is highly disturbing when a learned person does not understand the dynamics of rape or rape victims and with this biasness decides on the fate of women. We are disheartened that the Rape Myth is still well and alive and being perpetuated by the very authorities involved in the carrying out of justice.
Women’s organisation have been advocating for the fair treatment of rape survivors for years now. We maintain and reiterate that rape is Violence Against Women. We assert the following:
• A survivor may comply with rapist’s demand out of fear. The fact that the perpetrator is a uniformed personnel increased the possibility of compliance by the survivor.
• It does not require a bruise or the victim to scream for help to make it a crime.
• A married woman and a mother can be raped. So can a 89 year old grandmother and a 10 month old baby. What has the fact the women have been married before and have had children got to do with the fact that they were raped?
• A rape may happen on a bus, crowded mall, a bridge or an unlocked office. That the crime took place in a well-lit place, namely an unlocked station lock-up is irrelevant. Rape is a non-consensual sexual crime, no matter where or when it is perpetrated.
• The fact that the survivors were illegal immigrants has nothing to do with the rape and their status should not affect their credibility in the rape trial. This fact should in fact enable the judge to understand the reason for the delays in reporting and the degree of compliance on the part of the victims.
When a survivor is under a threat or supervision of an authority, one should understand the limitation of survivor’s capability. A report will only be made when a survivor can trust the authority. No survivor would make a report unless a trust relationship has been established. In this case the policeman is working at the same station and the survivors were only able to inform the incident 3 days later to a policewoman who was working at the same station. Instead of seeing this as a factor for delay the learned judge had used it as an aggravating factor. The judge had failed to understand the element of fear and intimidation.
We are also deeply disturbed by the judge’s insensitive comment on the rape. Rape is not sexual intercourse. It is a crime against women. It is a non- consensual act. When a man forces himself on two women, that can never be equated as a consensual act between husband and wife, what more if it was done by a person in authority.
Our faith in the system has been sorely tested with the passing of the above judgement. We urge the Government and the Chief Justice to look seriously into this matter. Members of the Judiciary need to be sensitised and trained on issues of rape. We also urge the DPP’s office to appeal against the acquittal
We, and certainly women in Malaysia, need to have our faith restored that our criminal justice system is just and fair. Otherwise victims of sexual assault will continue to be silenced and denied justice.
All Women’s Action Society
Sisters In Islam
Women’s Aid Organization
The Women’s Candidacy Initiative