The government has taken a great step to strengthen the laws and legal protection for children against sexual crimes and abuses through the introduction of Child Sexual Offences Bill, 2017.
PKR women national vice president Voon Shiak Ni said although there were still limited details provided on the proposed Bill that would be tabled in the current parliament sitting, she was given to understand that the definition of rape (in the proposed Bill) would now be broadened to include penetration of ‘other body parts and objects’.
Currently, the nation’s law narrowly defines rape as the penetration of penis into the vagina of a woman without her consent. Sex with or without the consent of a girl below 16 is considered statutory rape. Voon said the weaknesses in the nation’s criminal justice system and weak child protection laws had led to low conviction of child sexual abuse offenders and deterred victims to come forward to report the cases.
To prove her point, she said there were over 12,000 rape cases reported nationwide from 2011 to 2016, but only a quarter of the cases were charged while the conviction rate was only about one per cent.
Nevertheless, Voon attributed the success of getting the government to strengthen the laws and legal protection for children against sexual crimes and abuses, especially to Rosmiati Abdullah, the mother of the ‘finger rape’ victim, for her brave and bold move to come forward and put up their case in a bid to demand for the amendment of the law.
“We would like to give credit to Rosmiati. I still remember her telling us in our office that: ‘I know my daughter has become a (rape) victim and nothing can change that. But I want to bring this up to push for change so that others will be protected in the future’.”
Voon said it was not easy for women and their families to come forward to report a sexual abuse case whenever it happened to them and their families. That’s the reason why the reported rape cases was very low – below 20 per cent, according to figures from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The ‘finger rape’ victim, who was 15 years old then, claimed she was rape on four occasions, but the rapist, then 60-year-old Bunya Jalong was acquitted by the Court of Appeal as he contended there was no penile penetration but penetration using fingers.
Bunya’s acquittal caused an uproar among various women and human rights groups in the state. They believed it was a clear case of statutory rape considering that the rape had happened and a child was born as a result of the alleged rape. His acquittal also resulted in various groups coming together during the ‘Orange Gathering’ at Friendship Park here in 2014 to pressure for the amendment and the widening of the definition of rape to include body parts and objects.
“PKR legal team has written to the Court of Appeal for a written judgement and the victim was not given any compensation or maintenance. It is a case where justice is not served,” Voon said.
Voon also said their legal team had offered legal assistance to file a suit to claim for maintenance for the victim and the child.
Source : @ Borneo Post Online