Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that the 16-year-old girl in Sabah who married the man convicted of raping her when she was 12, is “doing well”.
She said the girl is living with her parents and was in good health, and she was given counselling to ensure she was doing well.
Riduan Masmud, 44, meanwhile, is serving his 12-year prison sentence.
The minister’s statement triggered an outcry among social media users who question how a girl who was forced to marry her rapist can be doing well when her life was “destroyed” and her husband can’t even provide for her as he is in jail.
Facebook user Brian Chong said this course of action was not helpful, and that the girl deserved to be married to a good man instead of someone who had raped her and was now doing jail time.
“I don’t get the law. Sure, she’s married but the guy is serving 12-year jail term which means she’s unable to marry, has a husband whom she does not know and can’t contribute to her welfare for more than a decade,” Chong wrote.
“A heinous crime like rape can’t be absolved simply by the rapist agreeing to marry the victim.
“A crime is still a crime regardless of the resolve of the criminal to make amends to the victim. The rapist must still face justice,” Chris Chin said.
Several social media users were baffled by the minister’s statement.
“The girl was dragged into a vehicle and was raped violently.
“Later, her father was bribed to retract the police report made by the girl herself and to cover everything up, she was forced to marry her rapist. Yet they say that she is doing fine?” Facebook user Siti Balqish said.
“The rapist has destroyed the life of an innocent child. What’s fine about that?” Reza Zainal asked.
Some were of the opinion that the girl should seek a divorce since her husband was incapable of providing for her.
Riduan was convicted in 2015 of raping the girl on Feb 18, 2013. He is serving his sentence at the Kepayan prison in Kota Kinabalu.
He had four children aged between two and 17 at the time of the offence.
He married the victim in May 2013 in an attempt to escape conviction and was charged with bribing her father with RM10,000 to withdraw the police report the victim had made against him.
The former restaurant manager was sent to jail after the Kota Kinabalu High Court dismissed the appeal on the statutory rape case.