Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Women’s group, lawyers tick off deputy minister for linking statutory rape with race


MARCH 19, 2014
Statutory rape should not be turned into an issue about race, women's group leaders said as they hit out at a deputy minister’s statement that non-Malays were less sensitive to statutory rape compared with Malays.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said that this was the reason statistics showed a high number of Malay victims in underage rape cases, as their parents were more likely to report these incidents.
Malays make up 80% of the statutory rape cases reported in 2012 and last year, the deputy minister revealed in Parliament, compared with Chinese, Indians and other races.

"Malays have more reports compared with other races because they are Muslims who can't accept a child out of wedlock, pre-marital sex, and because these acts are wrong by Islamic law (zina)," Wan Junaidi (pic) told Parliament yesterday during question time.
Wan Junaidi’s remarks hit a raw nerve among netizens and civil society, who criticised him as being insensitive.
Prominent lawyer and activist Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had only three words when asked to comment on Wan Junaidi's remarks – "I am speechless!" – she replied in a text message.
Women's Aid Organisation president Mok Chuang Lian said that underage rape was a serious problem and not a race issue.
She added that making statements that one particular race was more likely to report rapes than another was downplaying the real problem.
"The statistics should be used to understand the problem and how to curb it, especially among teenagers," Mok said.
Association of Women Lawyers president Meera Samanther agreed, adding that if statistics showed a high proportion of Malay children had been subjected to statutory rape, then the authorities should research on the reasons for this.
She also called on Putrajaya not to deflect the issue by providing sweeping statements unless they were verified, adding that such remarks encouraged a racial divide.
Instead, she said that public figures had an obligation to make statements that have basis and credibility.
"We are told time and time again, especially with the recent crisis that we should not 'speculate' but that is exactly what the deputy minister has just done," she said referring to Putrajaya’s repeated calls for the public and media not to speculate about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
In Parliament yesterday, Wan Junaidi disclosed that last year, 80% or 1,147 of the 1,424 of statutory rape cases reported involved Malays.
Statutory rape covers those aged below 16, regardless of whether it involved consensual sex.
In comparison, he said, Chinese accounted for 4.3% (62 victims), Indians accounted for 2% (32) while other races made up about 13% (183).
This was consistent with the numbers for 2012, whereby out of the 1,243 underage rape victims, Malays accounted for 80%, Chinese 5%, Indians 3% while other races accounted for 12%.
Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo said Wan Junaidi should state clearly the basis upon which he said non-Malays were less sensitive to statutory rape.
"He must now show us the evidence to back up his claims.
“Can he show us how many of such rapes have occurred and gone unreported until now because those affected were of a certain race who ‘were less sensitive towards it’ or ‘could accept it’?”
Gobind said if Wan Junaidi does not have the evidence to back his statement in Parliament, he should apologise. – March 19, 2014.

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