Tasek Gelugor MP, Datuk Shabudin Yahya, has stirred outrage after he allegedly said that girls as young as nine were “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.
Yahya, a Malaysian member of parliament, was said to have made the comment on Tuesday as Malaysia passed a law on sexual offences against children without criminalising child marriage.
The MP, who is a member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, made the comment in response to a proposal by an opposition member of parliament to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children bill to include a ban on child marriages.
He had said: “They reach puberty at the age of nine or 12. And at that time, their body is already akin to them being 18 years old.
“So physically and spiritually, it is not a barrier for the girl to marry.”
He also said there was “nothing wrong” with a rape victim marrying her rapist as she would then not face a “bleak future”.
His proposal was clearly voted down by the majority of members.
Yahya’s comments sparked outrage on social media, with some opposition politicians asking for him to be fired.
The Malay Mail Online quoted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as calling Yahya unfit for office over the latter’s suggestion that rapists be allowed to marry their child victims as a solution to social problems.
Lim said the Penang executive council unanimously condemned Shabudin, adding that the latter’s suggestion showed a “depraved and sick” mind.
“Penang people don’t want a monster to become their MP, we don’t want people with no compassion for rape victims to be an MP.
“We are ashamed to have an MP like this from Penang. Even though he’s not in the state government, he is a black stain for Penang,” he said.
He then demanded that Barisan Nasional and Umno expel Shabudin, and ask the latter to resign as MP.
In the wake of the controversy, Yahya today clarified that he was referring to consensual sex involving minors with his controversial suggestion for rapists to marry their victims.
The Tasek Gelugor MP denied he was referring to violent rape while debating the Child Sexual Offences Bill 2017 yesterday, following uproar over his suggestion.
Yahya maintained that such crimes should be dealt with according to the existing laws such as the Penal Code, and rejected reports that he was condoning such rapes.
“But in society’s reality, there are many cases of rape that are classified by law as ‘statutory rape’ but based on common consent.
“To resolve such problems, families often cover up the shame, do not make police reports and eventually make the decision to marry them,” he said in a statement on the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers site.