Saturday 8 September 2012

Guan Eng: Review rape laws, make impact statements mandatory

September 08, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — Lim Guan Eng today demanded a complete review of the country’s laws on statutory rape, slamming the Attorney-General’s Chambers for claiming a victim did not need to state how the crime had impacted her if consensual sex has been proven.

The Penang chief minister pointed out that there was no such thing as “consent” in statutory rape, saying that the victim had a right under the law to make a “victim impact statement” (VIS) before judgment is meted out on the offender.

“This scandalous remark questions the professional competency of the Attorney-General’s office whether the Attorney-General understands basic criminal law that even an ordinary man knows that there is no such thing as consent in statutory rape,” Lim (picture) said.

English daily The Star yesterday carried an interview with Deputy Solicitor-General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, who had admitted that in the case of 21-year-old Chuah Guan Jiu, who was convicted of raping his 12-year-old girlfriend, the victim was not informed of her right to make the VIS.

“The victim was not informed of such a right by the DPP as evidence was adduced that the accused was her lover and she consented to the sexual intercourse.

“As such, a victim impact statement from her would not have contributed to pressing for a severe sentence,” Tun Abdul Majid was quoted as saying.

According to the daily, amendments introduced to the Criminal Procedure Code, which came into effect from June 1, allow victims to state the impact of the crime before a judge decides on a sentence.

In Malaysia, the law provides for a narrow definition of rape.

According to section 375 of the Penal Code, “a man is said to have commit ‘rape’ if he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will or without her consent or had gained it under coercion, or if the alleged victim is under 16 years old — the legal age of consent.”

Lim said Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should personally take a stand on the matter by making the VIS mandatory for all victims of sex or violent crimes.

“The A-G should also require survivors of violent crimes to make victim impact statements so that the trauma endured as a result of being misled into engaging in sex at such a young age can be also heard,” he said in his speech at the opening of the Women Centre For Change (WCC) in Penang.

The Bagan MP stressed said that the laws on rape should be reviewed as the matter of the judiciary giving lenient sentences to statutory rapists was “nothing new”.

“In the infamous case 18 years ago which I was imprisoned for trying to defend the rape victim who was detained instead of the rapists, more than five men, who admitted to having sex with that minor and hence guilty of statutory rape, were bound over,” Lim said.

Earlier this week, a kindergarten owner found guilty of raping a four-year-old girl was freed when the Kuala Lumpur High Court overturned his conviction and sentence after saying there was no proof of penile penetration and the victim’s testimony was unreliable.

Ewe Peng Lip, 49, was the third person convicted of raping a child to have escaped the mandatory jail term and caning in the last two months — incidents that have already provoked  public uproar.

Last month, Chuah, who was initially convicted of raping his 12-year-old girlfriend, was released on a good behaviour bond by the Sessions Court in George Town.

Before that, former national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan, 20, was also released on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond after the Court of Appeal set aside his previous custodial sentence for rape by reasoning that he has a “bright future”.

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