The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has expressed concern that the consent of the victim had been the mitigating factor in two recent cases of statutory rape.

“While not denying that there have been similar sentences in the past in cases of statutory rape committed by young first offenders, the Commission is alarmed that the consent of the child victims appears to be one of the mitigating factors in both cases,”  Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam said.

NONEIn a statement today, Suhakam joined the chorus of indignation against the verdicts passed on child rapists electrician Chuah Guan Jiu and national bowler Nor Afizal Azizan.

Both were spared jail sentences despite receiving being found guilty of statutory rape this month.

It was reported that sessions court in Penang had noted in its ruling on Tuesday that the act between the offender Chuah and his victim had been “consensual”.

Hasmy (above) said, “That our penal laws recognise that a child may lack the necessary maturity to give real consent or may be unduly influenced into giving apparent consent, is underscored by the legal prohibition against sexual relations with a female child under the age of 16, regardless of consent on her part.”

He also pointed out that public disclosure of the offenders’ names may lead to the exposure of the child victims’ identities.

The government, he said, needs to protect the victims from all forms of sexual abuse by taking appropriate action.

“The best interests of the child in such cases, including the protection of the victim’s identity, her safety and well-being, should have been of paramount concern as enshrined under Articles 19 and 34 of the CRC,” Hasmy said.