According to Section 375 of the Penal Code, sexual act is defined as statutory rape when a victim under the age of 16 is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
It is a mockery to Islam to say that the solution to statutory rape lies within the religion, which is to marry off children at a young age. Islam does not allow for underage marriages, especially if it is to the perpetrator himself i.e the underage girl’s rapist. Marriage in Islam is about love, compassion, mutual respect and mutual responsibility between husband and wife – it is a union of mawaddah wa rahmah. How can there be love and compassion if there is an unfair balance of power between the spouses and a threat of sexual abuse in the marriage. In addition, how can there be mawaddah wa rahmah when a marriage is solemnised as a way to absolve a criminal act and the guilt of a perpetrator of rape, as the case of restaurant owner in Sabah, Riduan Masmud who was granted by the Syariah court to marry his 12 year old rape victim.
It is time we view rape as a crime that it actually is and a violation of human rights. Rape is a despicable act that is sinful in Islam and cannot be awarded with marriage. As members of civil society, we hold the responsibility to acknowledge the severity of rape crimes, this including statutory rape and take steps to help create a safer environment for women and girls. It is to the detriment of rape victims and also society at large to mitigate the severity of statutory rape crimes by encouraging early marriage as the solution. In addition, Malaysia, as a signatory to the Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Child Rights Convention (CRC) has an obligation to ensure that underage girls get access to higher education and achieve her potential instead of focusing on marriage as a solution to statutory rape cases, especially if it is a marriage to the very criminal that has destroyed her life.
Sisters in Islam
2nd January 2016