PETALING JAYA: Lessons on statutory rape, when they are introduced, will be “age and developmentally appropriate” according to local culture and context.
The new health education syllabus will see the topic taught to Year Six and Form Five students next year.
Statutory rape in textbooks will be discussed in relation to sexual behaviour and assault, the Education Ministry told StarEdu in an e-mail response.
Statutory rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code carries up to 30 years’ jail and caning upon conviction if a man has sex with a girl below age 16, with or without her consent.
“The new syllabus is important as it provides students with opportunities to explore and nurture positive values and attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health.
“It will also allow students to develop self-esteem and respect for human rights and gender equality, ” said the ministry.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said well-trained teachers and instructors were needed to conduct these classes to ensure the right message was effectively communicated to students.
“The earlier children are taught, the more aware they will be of their bodies, ” said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan.
He said teachers were up to the task of providing students with basic information on consent.
Child therapist Priscilla Ho said statutory rape should be introduced in Year Four and taught through the five years of secondary school.
She said parents must also start educating their children from a young age, especially on the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
On Nov 24, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching announced that students would learn about statutory rape and related issues, including child grooming and sexual harassment, beginning 2021.
It was important for them to know that sex at their age, even if consensual, was a crime, she said.
At least one-third of the rape cases reported to the police last year involved juvenile perpetrators and the number had been rising, The Star reported on Oct 25.
Most of the cases involved teenage girls between 13 and 15.
Bukit Aman statistics showed that 35% out of the 822 rape cases up till October 2019 involved young rapists.
The percentage rose from 25% in 2016 to 34% in 2018.
Believing that there were more unreported statutory rape cases, Asst Comm Choo Lily, the principal assistant director of the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11), attributed the problem to greater accessibility to pornographic material, usually circulated via social media or messaging applications.
There were instances of children below the age of 12 trying to imitate sex acts they saw on videos.
Many boys do not realise it is an offence to have sex with a girl under the age of 16.
They think that it is all right if their girlfriend consents and they love each other.
> See full report in StarEdu
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