A member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, Shabudin Yahaya has sparked outrage over controversial comments made in response to a proposal by an opposition member of parliament in order to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children bill to include a ban on child marriages.
The lawmaker said when a victim marries her rapist she is saved from facing an otherwise face a bleak future.
Explaining further he said; “The girl might feel safer rather than being just left like that.” According to him some 16-year-old girls had “wild lifestyles” and their families found it hard to control them, “But with the agreement of their wali (guardian), the girl, after marriage, will be looked after well by her husband and the wali. “They can live in peace,” he said, adding that it could be the perfect remedy to social problems.
Shabudin said it also did not mean that the rapist was a bad person. “Perhaps he has repented. Sometimes it is better to have repented and regretted, rather than not regretting at all.”
He was then asked if he was referring to rape or fornication as rape was a crime. Shabudin replied, saying both the acts of rape and fornication were considered crimes. “But what is important is that they (the men) must go through a process of repentance. “They have an opportunity to do this through marriage.”
Shabudin was of the opinion that only a small number of those who married when under 18 years of age faced divorce.
Shabudin said some girls matured fast and looked older than their age. “They reach puberty at the age of 9, or 12. And at that time, the physical state of their body is already akin to those who are 18 years old. “So physically and spiritually, it is not a barrier for the girl to marry.”
Expectedly the lawmaker got a backlash from citizens who called for his sack, however in a statement on Wednesday, Shabudin said his comments were taken “out of context”, and that marriage was not a “back door exit to legalize rape.” He said he rejected the motion to ban child marriages as it was contrary to provisions in sharia law.