Wednesday 29 August 2012

Permission to be paedophiles? — Erna Mahyuni

AUG 29 — Congratulations, Malaysia! We might soon become the next popular tourist destination for paedophiles, now that our courts have again waived the penalties for statutory rape for an individual after taking into account his “future”.

In the case of Chuah Guan Jiu, Sessions Court judge Nisa Abdul Aziz considered the following factors in deciding not to throw him into jail for having sex with a 12-year-old:

1. He did not have a criminal background.

2. He did not have a “high education”, having left school at Form 2.

3. Most importantly, the sex was consensual.

Since when did consent become a factor in determining guilt for statutory rape? This is not a case of sex between minors — this is an adult having sex with a prepubescent child. I’d call that paedophilia, wouldn’t you?

As there is no legal definition of the term paedophile, I’ll cite instead the definition used by the Australian National Crime Authority: “Adults who act on their sexual preference for children.”

Let us look at two very important facts in the case:

She was 12. He was 21.

She’s a minor. He’s an adult.

There is no “grey area” here as a 12-year-old is a child, not a teenager. Reading the news reportage, the offender had actually asked her to come over to his apartment on a school day.

A responsible adult would not be asking a child to skip school to have sex.

Was the judge confused? Did she assume that, because a child consented to sex, it was not rape? That there was nothing wrong with an adult man having sex with a child?

If, say, I subtract three years from their ages, would it perhaps make it more of an “obvious” offence?

It is clear that something is wrong with our judiciary system when we take into account consent in cases where it is not only clearly statutory rape, but an instance where you could call the perpetrator a paedophile.
Letting something like this go is akin to us saying: “Yes, it’s fine to have sex with primary school children so long as they say ‘Yes’.”

Some people would argue that 12-year-olds these days are physically more developed, with girls reaching puberty far earlier than they used to. Physical development is one thing but mentally, emotionally, a 12-year-old is still a child.

And a paedophile is still a paedophile, even if he has a “bright future”.

* Erna Mahyuni is a subeditor with The Malaysian Insider

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