Thursday September 6, 2012
Abdul Gani: Rape offenders must be severely punished to reflect gravity of crime
By P. ARUNA
PETALING JAYA: Rape cases require deterrent sentencing to reflect the abhorrence and revulsion of the public towards such crimes.
In a statement by the Attorney-General's Chambers, its chief Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said rape offenders must be severely punished to prevent others from committing such crimes against women and children.
There had been uproar from the public after former national youth squad bowler Noor Afizal Azizan and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu were bound over by the courts for five years and three years respectively, on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond, after being found guilty of statutory rape.
“This aberration of justice for those who most need the protection of the law must be rectified,” said Abdul Gani in the statement.
Both Noor Afizal and Chuah were 19 and 21 respectively when they committed the offences on girls who were then aged 13 and 12.
In the two cases, the judges took into consideration the future of both youths and noted that the sex acts were consensual.
Abdul Gani said in determining the appropriate punishment, especially for statutory rape cases, among the major factors to be considered by all parties involved were public interest and the seriousness of the offence committed.
Section 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows courts the discretion to bind the offender on a good behaviour bond if he is a first-time offender and the offence had been committed under extenuating circumstances.
Extenuating circumstances are acts surrounding the commission of a crime that work to mitigate or lessen it.
In relation to this, the A-G's Chambers said offences under Section 376 of the Penal Code, especially those which involve child victims, which increase the seriousness of the offence, were not considered “extenuating circumstances”.
“In principle, an adult, or a person above the age of 18, especially a person known and trusted by the child victim, should not take advantage of a child as the child has not reached maturity.
“Even if it is said (alleged) that there was consent from the child victim for a sexual act, this consent must be questioned, due to the age and immaturity of the party which is said to have given its consent,” said the statement.
The A-G's Chambers added it had on Aug 29 filed an appeal against the decision made by the Penang Sessions Court for Chuah's case.
As for the Appeal Court's decision on Noor Afizal, Abdul Gani said it may propose the use of the court's inherent power to review its decision.
In the statement, he said the number of rape cases involving victims below the ages of 18 and 12 had decreased over the years, and attributed this to the heavy penalties introduced by Parliament in 2007.
Based on the statistics from the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department, there were 281 rape cases involving children below 13 years and 1,767 cases involving victims aged between 13 and 15 in 2009.
The number dropped to 202 cases involving children under 12 years and 1,450 cases involving victims aged between 13 and 15 in 2011.
“As of July this year, 859 cases of statutory rape have been reported. Of the cases, 109 involved children under 12 and 750 cases involved victims aged between 13 and 15,” said Abdul Gani.
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