Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How can a child who married her rapist be 'doing fine'?

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COMMENT | Imagine you have a 12-year-old daughter.

Imagine receiving a phone call at your workplace and being informed by your daughter’s caretaker that she is in trouble. Would you drop everything and head home at once, or would you ask the caretaker to wait until you return home because you are too “busy” at work?

Imagine reaching home some eight hours after receiving the phone call, and being told that your daughter who had left in the morning to go to school has not returned home in the evening.

Imagine having your neighbour’s daughter inform you that a man your daughter had befriended on Facebook three months ago had raped her inside a car. Would you rush to the police station in an attempt to find her, or would you wait for your daughter to return home, not knowing when that would be?

Imagine finding out that the man who raped your daughter was a married 40-year-old man with four young children of his own, not the 24-year-old bachelor he claimed to be when he befriended your daughter.

Imagine being offered RM10,000 as an inducement to withdraw the report lodged against him. Would you agree to give your daughter’s hand to her rapist, or would you instead beat the crap out of him for even suggesting that he marry a child he has violated?

When Rohani Abdul Karim from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development said in Parliament recently that a 12-year-old girl who was made to marry her rapist in 2013 was now happy, healthy and doing well, living under the protection and care of her father and family, I flipped.

How can any child be well and protected under the care of an individual who has failed as a parent?

How can a child be well and protected living under the same roof as the man who accepted money as an exchange for her pride and dignity?

How can a child be well and protected living with a father who is no different from the people involved in the trafficking of young girls in the flesh trade?

A year ago, Rohani had this to say at the launch of an awareness campaign against child marriage: “My ministry does not condone child marriages. We have always been against early marriage or child marriage as it curbs the mental, physical and psychological development of a child.

“Let a child be a child and go through that phase before going to study and working because a good career is more important.”

I guess it is always easy to make statements – especially when you cannot imagine yourself having a 12-year-old child who has been raped.

Between 2010 and May 2017, there have been 13,272 cases of children being raped. In that time frame, there have also been 6,014 molestation cases, 1,796 cases of incest and 1,152 cases of unnatural sex.

Given that our country has a minister in charge of the wellbeing of women, family and community whose statements seem to be at odds with the wellbeing of women, family and community, we should not be surprised if more children become victims in the future.

FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a growing media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a regular director, a struggling producer, a self-acclaimed photographer, an expert Facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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