KUALA LUMPUR: Under fire for his controversial remarks on child marriages and suggestions that a victim be allowed to marry the rapist, Datuk Shabudin Yahaya said his words had been taken out of context.
In a three-page statement, the Tasek Gelugor MP said he was disappointed and shocked at how the media "inaccurately" reported his remarks made when debating the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 in Parliament on Tuesday.
He explained that he was referring to existing laws that allow for underaged marriage.
"However, rape cases are still criminal offences and it is up to the police and the court to decide on the punishment to be meted out," he said.
Shabudin added that there have been many cases of consensual sex that were classified as statutory rape, and this had resulted in families settling the matter out of court.
"They usually decide not to lodge a police report and subsequently marry off the underaged individuals.
"But such a marriage cannot simply take place without a 'wali' (parent or guardian) and they need to seek permission from the Syariah court first," he said.
He said the marriage was not a "back door" method to legitimise rape.
"We need to look at this as a positive development for the victims, especially in these cases," he said.
He also lashed out at several media outlets which he claimed failed to point out the fact that underaged children can get married after they reach puberty.
Shabudin said from the religious point of view, the offender could marry the victim either after or before his sentence without any restriction.
"But the media, in their reports, gave the impression that I said nine-year-olds can get married without taking into account that they have to reach puberty first," he said.
He said he rejected the motion raised by Kulai DAP MP Teo Nie Ching to include child marriage as an offence in the Sexual Offences against Children Bill (2017) as it was in contradiction with Syariah laws.
(To clarify on the part Shabudin said of puberty, The Star Online had quoted his remarks in Parliament on Tuesday as follows: "The former Syariah court judge added that some girls who reached puberty when they were as young as nine years old were "physically and spiritually" ready for marriage.")