KUALA LUMPUR – March 6, 2017: The Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) movement is defending a member of parliament who was strongly criticised for suggesting that underaged rape victims should be allowed to marry their rapists.
Its secretary-general Fatihah Jamhari, in a Facebook post, said she spent hours watching the recording of Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shahbudin Yahaya’s debate in parliament and concluded that the media had misquoted him.
Shahbudin, a former syariah court judge, was embroiled in the controversy two days ago after he had clashed with DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching, who had proposed a provision to bar all forms of child marriages in the Sexual Offences against Children Bill.
He argued that Teo’s proposal would contradict and nullify certain provisions in the country’s syariah laws.
The legal minimum age for marriage in Malaysia is 18. Both civil and syariah laws prohibit marriage with minors except if consent is obtained from syariah court.
This provision in the Islamic Family Enactment, according to Shahbudin, is to act as a safety net if a syariah court deems, on a case by case basis, that there is goodness in such a marriage.
Shahbudin also said that, a rapist who has been punished and has repented, can be allowed to marry the victim if he wants to be responsible for his actions.
According to Fatihah, Shahbudin’s reasoning was taken out of context by the media, consequently prompting critics to accuse him of endorsing the practice of marrying off underaged rape victims to their rapists.
In her post Fatihah pointed out that not only did Shahbudin not endorse child marriages but he even said that all rapists must be punished.
Fatihah described Teo’s proposal as irrelevant as the two matters are separate issues.
“We must first differentiate between child marriages and the issue of sexual offences against them.
“It is easy to get side-tracked, especially by sweeping remarks and emotive arguments such as the ones made by Kulai (Teo),” Fatihah wrote.