The long endeavour to amend Malaysia’s archaic rape laws, including its very definition, is now in the final stage, former de facto law minister Nancy Shukri said today.
However, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who had been involved closely with the process said the baton will now have to be taken up by her successor Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said following the recent Cabinet shuffle of their portfolios.
Nancy said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had consulted medical experts and had finally drafted an amendment to Section 376 of the Penal Code which, among other things, proposes to widen the definition of rape to include the insertion of a finger and not just a penis.
“That was the position then, before I was transferred to take charge of another portfolio then. But now I am not sure when a Bill to amend the rape law will be tabled. It is up to her to do it,” the Batang Sadong MP said, referring to Azalina.
Speaking to reporters after attending a function at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Stutong here, the lawyer-turned-lawmaker said the process to amend the rape law is not easy though it may seem so.
“We have to get the views of many professional groups, including the medical profession,” she said in response to PKR Wanita vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni’s queries over the delay.
Nancy now oversees the Malaysian Innovation Agency, Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation and Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology. She is also responsible for the Public Land Transport Commission and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Sarawak and CVLB Sabah.
Several Sarawak women’s groups and civil societies held a protest rally and submitted a memorandum to Nancy in May last year, seeking to widen the narrow laws defining rape following the high-profile “finger rape” case of a 14-year-old girl in 2011.
The accused, 60-year-old retired boat driver Bunya Jalong, was acquitted and discharged of four counts of raping the teen at a hotel in Sibu, despite impregnating the girl who subsequently gave birth to a baby boy.
A DNA test later confirmed Bunya to be the biological father despite his claim that he had only inserted his semen-smeared finger into her vagina.
Existing laws limit the definition of rape to penile penetration without consent. For statutory rape, the restrictive definition of penile penetration remains.