By : JOSEPH TAWIE
KUCHING: Furious Sarawak PKR women are demanding a judicial review of the Court of Appeal’s decision to let off former national bowler Noor Afizal Azizan convicted of having sex with a minor instead of putting him behind bars.
Noor Afizal was bound over for five years on a RM25,000 good behavior bond after being found guilty by the Sessions Court for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.
The Malacca High Court sentenced Noor Afizal to a five-year jail term following an appeal made by the prosecution.
The Court of Appeal, which comprised a three-member panel, had set aside the five-year jail term imposed on Afizal by the Malacca High Court, and restored the decision of the Sessions Court.
Sarawak PKR Women chief Nurhanim Mokhsen said: “We want the Attorney-General to apply for an urgent judicial review against the decision of the Court of Appeal.
“If we do not appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal, it will create a precedent and will open a floodgate of rape cases, especially statutory rapes, in the country.
“Already there is a similar case in George Town, Penang, where another rapist has been bound over on a good behaviour for statutory rape.
“This time, it is an electrician found guilty of raping his 12 year-old girl friend on two occasions last year.
“We pity these young girls who have become victims, while the rapists are merely bound over for a good behaviour.”
An angry Nurhanim asked how these decision-makers would feel if it happened to their own daughters.
She called on all women organisations in the state to stand up and voice their anger against the decision of the Court of Appeal.
“If you are unhappy, stand up for your rights and join us in calling for a judicial review on the decision,” she said.
Meanwhile, a similar case was reported in Penang. A Sessions Court judge had ordered an electrician to be bound over on a good behaviour after he was found guilty of raping his 12-year-old girlfriend.
Sessions Court judge Sitarun Nisa Abdul Aziz ordered Chuah Guan Jiu, now 22, to be bound over for three years on a RM25,000 good behaviour bond.
She said that the court took into consideration that Chuah was a young and first-time offender.
“We also consider the sexual act was consensual and that he is a school drop-out and another consideration is that of his future,” she said.
On July 20, 2012 Chuah was found guilty for raping the girl in his flat in Ayer Itam between 7am and 1pm on July 18 last year and between 2.25pm and 2.45pm on July 19.
The offence under Section 376(1) of the Penal Code carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and whipping.
Review the law
Meanwhile AFP reported that child protection activists were calling for a legal review following the court decisions to allow the two men to go free.
Child rights activist Hartini Zainudin, who runs the NurSalam crisis centre, said the Penal Code should be reviewed immediately to ensure children are given the protection they require.
“How can consent by a child, 12 years old, be a mitigating factor? I’m speaking as a child activist, who’s just horrified at the implications… on future cases and the message we’re sending out to perverts and paedophiles,” she told AFP.
Child protection NGO Voice of the Children also criticised the rulings.
“Is a good behaviour bond the right sentence for a then 21-year-old man who had sex with a 12-year-old girl, who has barely entered puberty?” said VoC chairwoman Sharmila Sekaran in a statement.
“Malaysia determined the age of consent at 16 years for a reason. The statutory rape law was enacted to protect young girls. The court needs to consider the nine-year age gap.”
People also expressed outrage on social media such as Twitter.
“What the courts have effectively done in these 2 cases is lower the age of statutory rape from 16 to 12,” one user posted Tuesday.