On September 8, 2017, with his head bowed low to avoid the press, a father was led into Malaysia’s Special Criminal Court on Sexual Crimes Against Children to hear his sentence for 623 counts of sexual abuse and sodomy. The man, whose victim was his own 15-year old daughter, was sentenced to 48 years in prison and 24 strokes of the cane.
This case is one of a growing number of incest cases in Malaysia. It comes on the heels of criticism leveled against Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Rohani Abdul Karim who, in a written reply to a parliamentary question stated that a 16-year old who was raped when she was 12, dropped out of school, and is currently living with her parents, was “doing fine.” The rapist, who is serving time in prison, married the girl on the back of the rape to avoid prosecution, drawing the ire of many Malaysians and exposing an inherent weakness in the law.
These two cases are not by any means isolated. Here are some numbers: on July 28, 2017, Minister Rohani reported that 13,272 children reported having been raped between 2010 and May 2017. Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) data shows that between 2014 and 2016, 11.8 percent of all sexual offenses against children were cases of incest. Of that, 50.7 percent of cases reported pointed toward a father or stepfather as the perpetrator. Read more