KUCHING: Rights groups are urging the Government to amend the Penal Code’s definition of rape by the end of this year.
Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) say there must be no slowdown in the amendment process, and have called for a timeline to be published.
Its president Margaret Bedus in a statement on Monday said it was imperative for the amendment to be drafted and passed in Parliament as soon as possible.
“We call on the powers that be to submit revisions of this law to
Parliament by the end of this year, bearing in mind that there have been many calls by to have the law amended in the past,” she said.
“The amended (rape) definition should include penetration of any body part, be it finger or tongue, and objects.”
Sarawak’s Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah agreed, believing the amendment could be passed and gazetted within this year.
“I think it is possible as long as all of us speak with one voice on the matter,” Fatimah said.
Calls for a speedy amendment came after the recent acquittal by the Appeal Court of a 60-year-old Sibu man from four charges of rape of a 14-year-old. The appellant, Bunya Jalong told the court there was no penile penetration, and that the minor became pregnant because he inserted his semen smeared fingers into her.
The court acquitted Jalong based on the present legal definition of sexual intercourse, which includes only penile penetration.
In the written judgement released later in May, another reason given for acquittal was the prosecutionâ€™s failure to bring in a further witness to challenge a doctorâ€™s view that, if a finger with sperm was placed in the vagina, impregnation was possible.
The girl gave birth on Feb 5, 2012, with a DNA test confirming Bunya to be the babyâ€™s father.
On Sunday, a rally pressuring the Government to amend rape laws was attended by hundreds at Friendship Park here.
At the rally, Rosmiati Abdullah, the mother of the rape victim, spoke out publicly for the first time about the ordeal, describing Bunya as an animal with a human face. The acquittal, she added, had denied her daughter justice.
Representatives from 28 non-governmental bodies took part in the rally, ranging from members of SWWS, the Kuching Division Journalist Association, Malaysian Institute of Architects, Sarawak Mental Health Association, Rise of Sarawak Efforts and Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association.
Also present were members of SUPP, PKR and PBB.
An online petition has been launched at change.org/p/government-of-malaysia-datuk-seri-najib-tun-razak-hentikan-rogol-stop-raping-our-children.