MALAYSIA’s top government official for women’s issues has declared a teenager married to her adult rapist is “doing fine.”
The country’s Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said in a parliamentary statement a 16-year-old, whose rapist Riduan Masmud, 42, took as a second wife to avoid being prosecuted, had not been to school since she was attacked, but was healthy.
“We visited the girl at her family home on April 18 and she was in good health while the husband is serving his time,” said Rohani as quoted by The Star newspaper.
Back in 2015, Riduan was jailed for 12 years and given two strokes of the cane in Sabah for sexually assaulting the then-12-year-old schoolgirl two years prior.
“The girl had also voiced her intention to work so she could be self-sufficient. The parents also informed us they had no problem in taking care of her,” said Rohani, who is of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, this week.
Rohani also noted according to a welfare officer’s report from 2014, the victim had not wanted to return to school because of high-profile media coverage of her case, and was staying home to look after her younger siblings.
The minister said the victim visited her husband in prison in Kota Kinabalu back in January, reported the Malay Mail Online.
At the time of his crime in February 2013, Riduan was a father of four children aged between two and 17 years old. He married the victim in May to escape conviction, but was charged by police after he tried to pay a bribe of RM10,000 (US$2,334) to the victim’s father.
While polygamy is not widely practised, Malaysian law allows men to marry up to four wives.
Another Malaysian lawmaker made headlines recently for expressing there was nothing wrong with rapists marrying their victims and that girls as young as nine were ready for wedlock.
“Perhaps through marriage, they can lead a healthier, better life. And the victim does not necessarily have a bleak future. She will have a husband, at least, and this could serve as a remedy to growing social problems,” Barisan Nasional’s Shabudin Yahaya said.