PETALING JAYA - Women's groups have demanded better rape investigation procedures and have called for the case involving a child bride who was allegedly raped by a youth whom she later married to be reopened.
Sisters In Islam programme manager Suri Kempe said the case of 13-year-old Nor Fazira Saad had highlighted a legal loophole in the law, which allowed rapists to escape investigation and punishment through marriage.
"Muslim and non-Muslim children must not be treated differently. It is deplorable that marriage is being used by alleged rapists as a way to escape prosecution.
"The government must stop rapists from manipulating religion and culture. We urge the government to make child protection a priority by amending this flawed provision in the law.
"The practice of child marriages affects many economic, social and health risks and does not protect our girls or secure their future," she said.
Suri said the best interests of the child "was clearly not a consideration" when the Syariah Court approved this marriage application.
She said the Child Act 2001 recognises a 13-year-old girl as a child but despite being legally a child, she is denied the protection normally afforded to children, including anonymity from public scrutiny, just because she is married.
"This is one of the perils of child marriage, a practice that has no place in a country that aims to be a developed nation by 2020."
Human rights lawyer and activist Honey Tan said as the crime of rape was against the state, a police report on rape could technically not be withdrawn.