Parliament passes the Sexual Offences against Children bill
"I want this to be a flag off to a lot of perpetrators out there, that you can run but you can't hide," said Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said
Parliament has finally passed the Sexual Offences against Children Bill, after its third reading at Dewan Rakyat yesterday. The bill was formed to protect anyone under 18 years old from sexual abuse. It also sentences anyone who is found making, being in possession and distributing child pornography to jail for a term between five and 30 years. The sentenced will also receive no less than six strokes of the rotan upon conviction.
The bill was debated by both government and opposition members of parliament; Tasek Gelugor Member of Parliament Datuk Shabudin Yahya argued that the victims, if aged between nine and 12, should marry their rapists because they are "physically and spiritually" ready for marriage.
"They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12 and at that time, the physical state of their body is already akin to those 18 years of age," he told Dewan Rakyat. "For a wife who was raped, if she can marry (the rapist) she would not go through such a bleak future. At least she has someone who can become her husband. So, this will be a remedy to social problems."
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Member of Parliament, said that "the bill would raise the status of children to testify even though existing laws state otherwise".
"There is no definition on the prudent age of children but the court can decide on the tender years to be below 13," she told The Malay Mail. "As such, the prudent age of children is between 14 to 18 and they could give sworn statements."
She also said that the government cannot entirely assure that sexual crimes against minors will be curbed by the bill. "[But the bill] is a start," Azalina said to the News Straits Times. "Do not worry, there will be a follow-up to (enhance) the bill."
In an interview with R.AGE, Azalina said that she hoped the passing of the bill would be a "flag off to perpetrators". "I am tired and relieved. I believe and I hope that in the passing of this act, children out there will and can be protected," she said. "I want this to be a flag off to a lot of perpetrators out there, that you can run but you can't hide."
Learn more about the bill via the video below or click here to read all about it.