Heavy penalty not the answer

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 24 Jan 2004


Star Poll on Child Rapists 

PETALING JAYA: The rise in rape cases should be addressed holistically and using a multi-disciplinary pronged approach, instead of merely enhancing the penalties. 

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) executive director Ivy Josiah said there needs to be a study on whether the existing punishments for rape/incest and the criminal justice system impede or encourage these offences from taking place. 

“Most rape cases take between two to four years before it reaches the court.  

“Instead of providing swift justice for the rape survivor, the delays in the system only succeed in breaking them and causing them to regret making a police report,” she added. 

She said Malaysia needed to send a strong signal that rapists would be caught swiftly and punished. 

“If the death sentence has not deterred drug trafficking in Malaysia, how is the death penalty, or for that matter chemical castration or public flogging alone going to deter rape or incest?” she asked, adding that public flogging was just one step away from the public amputation of limbs. 

“The 2002 statistics for rape show that 305 of the 1,431 cases were of incest. If an incest survivor knows that her father or brother is going to be castrated or publicly flogged, they will be reluctant to tell anyone. 

“These extreme punishments also become an added burden because the perpetrators would then threaten them with death as well,” she added. 

Josiah said there was a need to pause and look at the big picture although the public was rightly angry. 

“Society feels powerless and wants to lash out but we should look at the experience of European countries, where they have managed to bring down the incidents of rape because they improved on their system of support for survivors, brought in counselling for the survivor and at times rehabilitation for the whole family, introduced sex education and taught gender equality in schools.” 

The Government should look seriously at the suggestions that women’s groups had previously submitted, said Josiah. 

“A rape is taking place even as we speak and no number of executions is going to prevent it from happening.” 

Josiah said there was an urgent need to study why there was sexual abuse of women and children, adding that the only difference between rape, molest and sexual harassment was the degree of violation. 

She suggested the review be conducted by a Commission for Violence Against Women and Children, comprising NGOs and government agencies, and headed by the police. 

(The WAO Rape Helpline is 03-7960 4542) 

Related Stories:Cabinet to discuss ways to curb crime Reinforce discipline, PM tells IGP Cops seek fourth man in Nurul case Doc: Most child rapists strike after gaining victim’s trust Education vital to prevent rapeWhat your child can do 

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