‘Rape victim’s tudung did not save her’

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Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The recent conviction of a Kelantan man for rape and murder has prompted an activist lawyer to question the effectiveness of PAS’s Islamic administration, particularly as it pertains to the protection of women.

Nik Elin Rashid, who is a Kelantan native, said one would have expected sexual offences and violent crimes to be rare in a state governed according to Islamic principles.

Last Wednesday, the Kota Bharu High Court found Mohammad Awari Ahmad, 25, guilty of the 2015 rape and murder of housewife Yashmin Fauzi. He was sentenced to death for the murder and 18 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the rotan for the rape.

Nik Elin accused PAS of failing to set its priorities right.

She said: “The problem is that PAS is concerned only with superficial matters, such as the covering of women’s hair. That was the first thing it enforced when it came into power.

“Other matters, such as the state’s economy, is of little importance to it. So we have problems such as unemployment, which causes quite a number of citizens to turn to crime.

“According to information from the web, the rape victim wore a tudung. It did not protect her and it did not prevent her from being raped and murdered in front of her five-year-old son.

“PAS has clearly failed to protect women in Kelantan.”

She also said she didn’t believe the enforcement of hudud laws would have prevented such crimes.

“Hudud involves only theft, alcohol consumption, fornication and false witnessing. Murder is dealt with under qisas, which means the murderer can escape the death sentence if the victim’s family forgives him.”

She noted that Mohammad Awari had yet to exhaust his appeals.

“He may be acquitted and set free in the end, but that won’t deflect from the fact that there was a rape-cum-murder of a woman in Kelantan.”

Women’s Aid Organisation director Sumitra Visvanathan alleged that such crimes happened because some men had a sense of entitlement over women.

“It all comes down to what it means to be equal,” she told FMT. “Some men believe they have the power, the licence and the right to hurt women because they see women as being fundamentally inferior.”

Commenting on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s declaration of 2018 as the year of empowerment for women, Sumitra said this did not mean anything if laws to ensure equality were not in place and if men’s attitudes towards women didn’t change.

“We have an entrenched traditional attitude of controlling women,” she said. “When a woman tries to speak up, she is silenced.

“You can make as many declarations as you like about the direction towards which you want us to head, but what we really need is that attitude change and laws that ensure equality.”