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Malaysia

WOMEN PROTEST HANDLING OF RAPE CHARGE AGAINST FORMER MALACCA CHIEF

Updated: November 21, 1994 05:00 PM GMT
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Many Malaysians, especially women, have expressed outrage that the country´s attorney general has decided not to charge a prominent ruling party figure accused of having sex with a minor.

Rahim Thamby Chik resigned as chief minister of Malacca state and head of the youth wing of Malaysia´s ruling United Malays National Organization amid allegations he had sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl.

Under the penal code, it is statutory rape for an adult to have sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 16, with or without consent.

But Attorney General Mohtar Abdullah declared Oct. 21 that he had no prima facie evidence to charge Rahim in the case.

Abdullah proceeded to disclose that the girl involved reported 17 instances of sexual relations with 14 men, eight of whom confessed to the acts.

The girl´s grandmother was furious over the attorney general´s actions, particularly his disclosure of the girl´s report.

"He has not been fair to us and is one-sided," she said.

Women´s groups made press statements in protest. The All Women Action Society (AWAM) held a public forum on "The Crime of Being Young, the Dilemmas of Young Women Today."

AWAM expressed concern over the disclosure of the girls´ history, saying an investigation should be conducted to determine whether or not rape was committed regardless of the victim´s sexual history.

Deputy Minister Abdul Hamid Othman reportedly proposed prosecuting the girl under Islamic law, which holds women culpable as adults for sexual offenses once they begin menstruation, for illicit sex and pregnancy outside marriage.

In a statement, the Sisters of Islam declared it a flagrant miscarriage of justice if the minor questioned under one legal system is rendered liable for prosecution under another system.

Marina Mahathir, daughter of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and a columnist, observed, "Now that even minors can be charged in the same way as an adult, what is the use of having any law to protect children when everyday we read of girls as young as 11 or 12 being raped and abused by older men, often their fathers or stepfathers?

"Are all these girls going to be charged with illicit sex simply because they get pregnant, and their rapists let off for lack of evidence?"

According to Mahathir, "The lesson is clear: choose your rapist carefully."

The columnist said, "There are injustices in the law which are mind-boggling. A Muslim woman particularly has it hard. If she is raped by a non-Muslim man and gets pregnant, she is charged for illicit sex and he gets away.

"Even is she is raped by a Muslim, it obviously depends on who he is, how old she is, whose family she comes from."

END

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