Hike in underage rape

03 May 2016 / 13:37 H.

    PETALING JAYA: The number of under-age rape offenders has been steadily increasing according to the recently released UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.
    According to the report, in 1997 the number of under-age rapists (below 18 years old) was a mere 3% or 47 out of 1,833 cases compared to 20% or 591 of 2,767 cases in 2013.
    Statistics from the police also show that the number of under-age offenders is on the rise with 19.3% or 430 out of 2,222 cases in 2014 and 23.4% or 469 out of 2,002 cases in 2015.
    Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) advocacy officer Natasha Dandavati said the trend is nothing new to the organisation and is likely caused by gender discrimination and negative stereotyping.
    Natasha said such behaviour starts developing in children from a young age and Malaysia's male-dominated environment is a major contributing factor.
    "In Malaysian society, children are often already receiving the message that boys are more valuable and more capable than girls."
    She also noted that children who grew up in an abusive environment will often grow up to be abusive themselves, creating a cycle of abuse that could be passed on.
    Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) executive committee member Ivy Josiah, however, cautioned that judgement should not be passed on under-aged offenders based on statistics alone.
    Josiah said the issue of consent is often a grey area when it comes to rape crimes perpetrated by under-aged boys and the devil is in the details not shown in mere data.
    "Sometimes, for example, the case may be an 18-year-old boy having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. In that case, even with consent between both individuals, it will be considered statutory rape," she said.
    Universiti Malaya professor of law (Child and Youth Justice) Dr Farah Nini Dusuki also noted that it is unfair that statutory rape committed by an under-aged boy is lumped together with other rape cases as the sex may have been consensual, although legally it is considered as rape.
    She added that it is better to give the offending boys rehabilitative treatment instead of punitive action.


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