AUG 10 — Yesterday, the Court of Appeal unanimously decided to overturn a High Court decision sentencing national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan to five years’ jail for statutory rape. Instead, he was bound over for five years for good behaviour, for a sum of RM25, 000.
In his judgment, Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Raus Md Shariff
noted that “public interest would not be served if Noor Afizal was sent
to jail as he had a bright future.”
While the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) acknowledges
the lack of information on factors influencing the appellate court’s
decision in sentencing, we are troubled that the perpetrator’s potential
for “a bright future”, presumably derived from his status as a national
athlete, was used as one of the grounds for sentencing.
If this was the sole influencing factor in sentencing, then JAG
expresses regret over the decision by the Court of Appeal that the
perpetrator was released on probation of good conduct for the offence of
On the surface, the judgment appears to hint at the application of a
double standard by implying that anyone with the right “credentials” can
commit a crime, and get away with a rap on the knuckles. Does it mean
that an individual who is perceived to have no future would get a
JAG respects and upholds the discretionary powers of the court in
sentencing; we believe that the court has a duty to exercise its powers
equitably so as to ensure that justice is applied equally to all strata
We recognise the potential complexities involved in statutory rape
cases. While statutory rape laws are put into place to protect children
from abuse by older, predatory partners, teenagers in a sexual
relationship can sometimes get caught in the crossfire.
We urge the judiciary to clarify in their judgment all of the factors
that were taken into account for the sentencing. JAG hopes that
although the victim may have “consented” to sex, the effect of the crime
on the victim (i.e. a child of 13 years) was also considered.
* The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) comprises
Sisters In Islam (SIS), the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), All Women's
Action Society (AWAM), Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC), Perak
Women for Women Society (PWW) and Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor
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