Barisan Nasional MP of Tasek Gelugor, Shabudin Yahaya, has left Malaysians stunned by arguing that marriage between a rape victim and her rapist was "a possible remedy for social problems"
Shabudin, according to a Malaysiakini report by Zikri Kamarulzaman, said that a marriage between the rape victim and her assaulter may even lead to the rapist "repenting" while arguing that such a marriage would be good for the victim.
"Maybe with the marriage, (the man) can lead a different life that is better. And the wife who was raped, if she can get married she will not go through an uncertain future. At least she has a husband... this is a remedy to social problems," MP Shabudin was reported as saying by Malaysiakini in the Dewan Rakyat in a response to DAP's Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.
Teo was proposing to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 with a clause to ban child marriages. The Dewan Rakyat passed the bill without Teo's clause.
Shabudin, while saying that rape was a crime, added that the law does not prevent a rape victim from marrying the attacker
Which is exactly what DAP's MP Teo was proposing to include in the bill, that child marriages in Malaysia should be banned. Currently, the marriage of Muslim girls under the age of 16 required the permission of the Syariah Court.
While Teo presented many real-life examples showing how women involved in child marriages are often made to suffer at the hands of their husbands, Shabudin argued that "his experience as a Syariah Court judge has led him to believe that underage girls with "wild lifestyles" eventually had better lives after marrying good husbands."
When Amanah MP of Kota Raja Siti Mariah Mahmud tried to argue that girls as young as 12 years old were too young to be married, Shabudin refuted her saying "girls who reached puberty as young as 9 years old were physically and spiritually ready for marriage"
Additionally, while refuting Siti Mariah, Shabudin reportedly also said this:
"When we discuss 12 and 15 year-olds, we don't see their physical bodies, because some children aged 12 or 15, their bodies are like 18-year-old women. So it's not impossible for them to get married."
Shabudin's statement obviously did not sit well with Malaysians and they have taken to the Internet to call out the BN MP's misogynism
Farouk A Peru, an Islamologist and author, has called for MP Shabudi to be sacked and others on Facebook have joined in to voice out, saying they do not want the Tasek Gelugor MP as their representative.
Farouk, in a piece published on a local website, writes that "Nowhere in the world is like Malaysia, where rape culturalists manifest in the form of Members of Parliament who try to legitimise child marriages between rapists and victims of statutory rape."
DAP's MP of Batu Kawan Kasthuri Patto also took to her Facebook profile to demand that UMNO should sack MP Shabudin Yahaya immediately and not protect "this uncouth elected representative"
Kasthuri wrote that Shabudin’s remark could encourage rape as attackers would believe that marriage to their victims would result in them escaping punishment.
"It is disturbing to note that a leader, a father and probably a grandfather would resort to making such a remark. It is dangerously misogynistic and perverse to still make a rapist seem like a hero, painting a picture as if he had 'manned up' to his act and the punishment is actually on him.
"Does this UMNO MP not know that by saying this, that serial rapist or those with the intention to rape will then force himself on his victim and then marry them to consummate the marriage, just to bury their crime," she wrote.
She further wrote that instead of calling for harsher penalties against rapists, Shabudin actually "took pride in making his despicable case to support them and in other words, assisting rapists to legalise their unpermissible sexual acts on an unwilling victim."
Kasthuri, who was addressing Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the UMNO president, in her statement, ended the post saying, "Rapists should be condemned and never celebrated. Definitely not in a union of marriage."
Taking a step further, a Malaysian citizen has even lodged a police report against Shabudin Yahaya to get rid of him as a Wakil Rakyat
Jonathan Ramesh Raj, who lodged the police report, posted it on Facebook to encourage others to do the same in order to get rid of the Tasek Gelugor MP as a People's Representative and to make him resign from his post with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam has said that Shabudin's statement is shocking and deplorable suggestion that undermines the severity and emotional trauma experienced by a rape survivor
In a statement released to the press, Sisters in Islam has termed Shabudin's statement as something that is "divorced from the reality in Malaysia where child marriage has been used by rapists to either avoid or attempt avoiding prosecution."
"Suggesting that marriage and statutory rape can be conflated is a mockery to Islam. 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 right from the start? How can there be mawaddah wa rahmah when a marriage is solemnised as a way to absolve a crime and guilt of a rapist?" the civil society organisation said.
Responding to Shabudin's statement that underage girls can be married at Syariah Court's approval, Sisters in Islam said that while the Syariah system does not provide a specific age vis-a-vis marriage, it talks about maturity as a prerequisite for anyone to enter into marriage.
"No child aged 9, whether girl or boy, whether possessing more mature physical attributes or not, can ever be ready for marriage and all the responsibilities it entails. If nothing else, such a child is not able to fend for themselves, let alone a spouse," Sisters in Islam said, adding that the group "reiterates its call for the minimum age of marriage for girls to be reviewed and raised to 18 years, without exception."
On its part, Shabudin's counterpart and fellow party man, Dato' Abdul Rahman Dahlan has strongly criticised the Tasik Gelugor MP
Rahman Dahlan, who is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said he was utterly disappointed with Shabudin's statement in the Dewan Rakyat.
"Every child has the right to live, to dream, and to have fun. If the parents cannot provide a decent childhood for their children, it is the Government’s responsibility to protect the best interests of Malaysian children," he said in a statement posted on his FB page.
Rahman Dahlan further that said that Section 375(g) of the Penal Code states that any man who has sex with a girl under 16 years of age commits statutory rape, regardless of whether he has received her consent.
"Therefore, it is abhorrent in this 21st century to suggest that a rapist, who should in the first place be prosecuted, has the means to escape legal responsibility simply by marrying his victim," the Kota Belud MP said.
What do you think about the issue? Should UMNO take action against Shabudin? You can comment your thoughts below.