Unicef Malaysia today said it is "deeply disturbed" by the acquittal of a 60-year-old man of four counts of rape of a 15-year-old girl, because the girl’s testimony was deemed unreliable.
The man, whose DNA matches the baby the girl gave birth to, was also acquitted because he used his semen-smeared finger to penetrate her, instead of his penis.
The names of the accused, Bunya Jalong, and the girl were also not on the register of the hotel, where the crime was allegedly committed, the Borneo Post reported.
Unicef Malaysia said the judiciary should consider that child victims of sexual abuse often suffer from trauma which may affect their testimonies.
"Experience shows that child victims of sexual abuse often suffer trauma, and this sometimes limits their ability to express themselves clearly and consistently.
"Children in Malaysia need, and have the right to, legal and judicial processes that clearly identify sexual acts between a child and an adult as sexual abuse by the adult, and that punishes all perpetrators of such abuse," it said in statement.
Bunya was charged with one count of rape in a hotel room and three counts of statutory rape in the same hotel.
He was in October 2013 convicted by the Sibu Sessions Court of four counts of rape, and was sentenced to 15 years jail and five strokes of the rotan for the first rape charge and nine years in jail and two strokes of rotan each for the three other charges, to run concurrently.
He was also to pay RM40,000 compensation to the complainant.
The Sibu High Court dismissed his appeal for his conviction, affirmed the compensation and caning and varied the jail sentence. The Court of Appeal last week overturned his conviction.
Children can't consent
Bunya reportedly testified that he had never had intercourse with the girl, and that she asked him for sex at the local YMCA toilet.
He said he ejaculated after the girl gave him a handjob and penetrated her using his finger, which was stained with his semen.
A specialist obstetrician testified that pregnancy can occur if freshly ejaculated semen is inserted into a vagina using a finger, the Borneo Post reported.
However, Unicef stressed that children have no ability to consent to sexual acts.
"With this year marking the 20th anniversary of Malaysia’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is critical to remember one of the fundamental pillars of that legal instrument and ensure that the best interests of the child, prevail.
"After experiencing the terror and trauma of rape, children who have been victimized should be protected from further abuse, and the due process of law applied to bring perpetrators to justice," it said.