Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rape is always the woman’s fault

Mariam Mokhtar

July 12, 2013
Is this the first crime committed in the Sukma Games village, or have other rapes gone unreported?
One MP insists that sex crimes could be checked if women were to follow a dress code yet another parliamentary official says that women need to flash their underwear, to become councillors. This disturbing opposition of views shows that this government needs to address the ignorance of its MPs.
In the alleged gang-rape of a Malaysian Games (Sukma) official at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), by three teenage players, the Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin appears to have placed greater emphasis on the consumption of alcohol, than the crime of rape itself.
Khairy must realise that nobody asks to be raped, even if they are drunk. He must put the needs of the victim first. The consumption of alcohol may have been a contributory factor to the crime, but how long will it be, before this case degenerates into a blame game?
Rape is rape. Khairy insists that future sporting events will be free of drugs and alcohol. What about his ministry changing the attitude of Malaysians and eradicating the sexist “blame culture”? Why not start with educating men that no woman should be forced to have sex, whether she is drunk or not?
Before long, the victim will be accused of inviting rape because of what she drank, how she behaved, or what she was wearing. Perhaps, a burka-clad woman will be accused of inviting rape because she flashed a bit of ankle and aroused some poor innocent man, who was driven to an orgy of lust.
The Sukma rape strikes horror into any parent whose child might take part in the games. Yesterday, three teenagers pleaded not guilty to raping a 19-year old communications liaison officer for the Federal Territories girls’ handball team. The accused were handball players; 18-year-old Adib Adha Ismail, Megat Farzeril (19) and Mohammad Shaizzad (19).
The victim claimed that she had gone drinking with members of her team, but woke up in a stupor in the early hours of the following morning. She found one man on top of her naked body, before the other two took turns raping her.
The alleged incident took place in a dormitory, in the Games village, on their return from their night out.
Did the other occupants of the dormitory not notice anything amiss, or was the rape committed in the sleeping quarters of the accused? If the girl was inebriated, how was she sneaked past the security guards at the complex and taken to the male accommodation unit?
Why did the others in the drinking party, especially the members of the girls’ handball team whom the victim was supposed to chaperone, not report her missing? Was her drink spiked? Was she given date-rape drugs like Rohypnol or Ketamine?
Is this the first crime committed in the Games village, or have other rapes gone unreported? Many women may not want to report a rape, because of the social taboos associated with the crime.
Botched up investigations
The former Asian Football Confederation general secretary, Peter Velappan claimed that this “outrageous” incident was the first of its kind in Malaysian sports and that it had tarnished the country. He wanted offenders to face “severe punishment”.
Where has Peter been all this time? In 2011, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court ruling which sentenced national tenpin bowler, Noor Afizal Azizan to five years in jail for statutory rape. His victim was 13 years old when he raped her.
Sex with a minor, with or without her consent, is statutory rape. The Court of Appeal President Raus Md Shariff said that Noor Afizal had a “bright future” and that jailing him would not serve the public interest. The bowler was bound over for five years for good behaviour, with a surety of RM25, 000.
Is it any wonder that Malaysians have little faith in the judiciary?
Seven years ago, Chee Gaik Yap, was jogging with her younger sister, when she was abducted, raped and murdered. The suspect was a car salesman Shahril Jaafar, 32, who evaded capture by running-off to Australia, where his father had obtained permanent residence. Shahril was eventually arrested, when he returned last year.
It was reported that Shahril’s semen was found on the victim but the Judicial Commissioner Zaki Abdul Wahab said that ‘the semen did not completely match with his DNA and that it was possible for a third person to have contributed to the DNA profile’.
What tests were conducted to ascertain that the semen was Shahril’s? In what way did this semen not match his DNA? Was there a problem with the collection of the forensic evidence or the way the samples were stored or tested?
If Shahril was not guilty, why did he abscond to Australia? Is it because he has no faith in the prosecution, the Chemistry Department, the investigation process or the judiciary?
It is alleged that his father is a “Datuk”. So, was Shahril being set up to intimidate his father? Or was Shahril being protected because his father is a Datuk? Who was the third party?
Malaysians have enough experience of investigations being botched up – Teoh Beng Hock. Kugan, Sugumar and the Sodomy I trial.
You might have thought that Malaysian politicians would tackle this most heinous crime by educating the public but the PAS MP, Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff claims that short pants and short dresses contribute towards sex crimes.
Blame culture
She has singled out stewardesses for indecency and has called for a dress code to prevent sexual harassment. If only she would tell the Muslims in our elite Umno-Baruputera society, to cover up. All she has to do is to have a peep at some of the high-society functions or private soirées in and around Kuala Lumpur. She could start with the parties at the Taib Mahmud household.
In the very conservative Saudi Arabian society, women are covered up and prevented from co-mingling with males, but the country is alleged to have one of the highest rates of rape in the world.
If a dress code were mandatory, for Malaysian women, who would decide what is proper?
How does Siti Zailah explain rapes of old women or women wearing tudung? Will a dress code prevent the incest which occurs in many households? What about the rape of young boys and men? Will men have to dress appropriately, too?
When is the Minister for Women, going to comment about this shocking incident?
Rape is not always the woman’s fault, and both Khairy and Siti should not descend to the blame culture. They could tackle sex crimes in Malaysia by training the police and instituting sensible forensic procedures.
If the forensic farces that were seen in the Sodomy I and II trials could be consigned to history, the rates of conviction for rape could be increased.
Mariam Mokthar is a FMT columnist

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