Malaysia

Father seeks justice after young daughter’s rapist escapes jail

By Opalyn Mok and Lisa J. Ariffin
August 30, 2012

The father fears that other children may fall victim to his 12-year-old daughter’s rapist. — Reuters picThe father fears that other children may fall victim to his 12-year-old daughter’s rapist. — Reuters picGEORGE TOWN, Aug 30 ― As public prosecutors prepared to file an appeal here, the father of the 12-year-old girl raped by technician Chuah Guan Jiu is demanding justice following a Sessions Court decision to free him on a RM25,000 bond instead of sending him to jail.

“I am really disappointed with this decision. He (Chuah) should have been sent to prison and locked up so that he can’t prey on other young girls,” said the distraught 47-year-old odd-job worker yesterday.

He said even though his daughter was still a child and Chuah, 22, had ruined her future, the court did not take this into consideration when imposing its sentence.

Instead, the court had only considered the future of the perpetrator, the man added.

“I think it is really wrong to let him go just like this. Now, he is free to prey on other young girls,” he said.

Khalid: Victims were too young to understand the consequences of their acts.Khalid: Victims were too young to understand the consequences of their acts.He also wanted to know if the court had handed out its decision because of the recent precedent where former national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan was also released on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond.

The father, who may not be named to protect the identity of the victim, is now working with Women’s Centre For Change (WCC) to seek further redress and justice for his daughter.

Child rights groups, WCC and social activists have criticised these two court decisions that have also created public uproar.

In Kuala Lumpur, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers both slammed the courts for freeing the two young men convicted of raping 13- and 12-year-old girls, while psychiatrists here also suggested the judiciary may have freed sexual predators who might repeat their crime.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were commenting on Chuah’s case ― the second recent case of statutory rape that has ended with the perpetrator walking free.

The decision further stoked existing public outrage following the case of national bowler Noor Afizal ― convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl ― who was let off from serving jail time after a Court of Appeal decision reversed an earlier High Court ruling and bound him over for good behaviour.

When contacted by The Malaysian Insider, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said the courts’ decision to free both rapists was “completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable”.

“I am very surprised how the judge considered the interests of the culprit and perpetrator and not of the victim. The girl’s future may also been damaged,” Khalid said.

He explained that both cases were of two individuals “taking advantage of girls who may not fully understand the implication of their acts by agreeing to have sex” and “although it was consensual, it was done at a very young age before their ability to reason and think for themselves”.

Wee: Sentence for statutory rape is mandatory jail time.Wee: Sentence for statutory rape is mandatory jail time.Khalid’s colleague and PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin echoed his sentiments, saying the judiciary “should not consider the future of the perpetrator (as) more important than the suffering and trauma the girl has to go through”.

Referring to Noor Afizal, she said the sentencing “was not good for him also”.

“He should be punished accordingly. This would be more dignified for him to face the future rather than this hanging around him,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

“Best he serves his sentence and be a gentleman and get it over with. This will also do justice to the girl,” she added.

Ayer Hitam MP and Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said “everyone had expected a heavier sentence”.

“The sentence for statutory rape is mandatory jail sentence. I think there should be mandatory jail sentence for the rapists more so when it’s with minors”.

MP for Pulai Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed mirrored his colleague, saying: “According to the law they should serve time.”

“So I think the court should be objective about it and not abuse the law,” he said.

“They should apply the law as written and later on they can lighten the sentence, and not when sentence you justify why you didn’t apply the sentence of law. Because law is still the law.”

DAP national publicity chief Tony Pua said the immediate issue at hand are judges who are “taking laws into their own hands and setting aside laws passed in parliament”.

“They are ignoring what is stated in the law, which states jail sentence. This is not even interpretation of law, it’s rewritten,” the federal lawmaker said, adding judges “have no power to write their own law.”

Pua: Judges are rewriting law with such decisions.Pua: Judges are rewriting law with such decisions.“Laws can be changed, but by the right institution like Parliament, and not by the judiciary. I do not understand why such judgment has been put up,” he added.

The ages of the rapists and their victims also meet the criteria to classify the acts as paedophilia, possibly exacerbating the effects of the two men’s release.

The World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) categorises paedophilia as “a sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of pre-pubertal or early pubertal age.”

And according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by mental health professionals globally, paedophilia is the sexual attraction to pubescent or pre-pubescents aged 13 or younger, and the subject must be 16 or older with the child at least five years younger.

Noor Afizal was 19 when he committed the offence while the girl he raped was 13, or six years his junior.

In the case of Chuah, he was 21 at the time of the offence, while his victim was 12 -- a nine-year gap between the two.

The age differences between the perpetrators and the victims in both cases satisfy the ICD and DSM criteria for paedophilia.

Mental health professionals whom The Malaysian Insider spoke to here said that while it was impossible to diagnose both Noor Afizal and Chuah without meeting them, they agreed that the offenders’ age difference with their victims and the ages of the two girls met the definition of paedophilia.