By: Murray Hunter

Over recent years, crime, domestic violence, incest and rape have afflicted Malaysia’s rural kampungs, creating a domestic and social crisis in the heartland. There are concerns that decades of state neglect and politicization of infrastructure at the very grassroots of society have been accompanied with a decay of morals and ethics, with critics sounding concerns that sexual abuse of girls and women is destroying the social fabric of society.

The long term solution is a shift in Malay culture, which would meet great resistance within society as the current balance of power favors chauvinistic males who hold the reins with little female intellectual input.  There is no better example than the case of former Malacca Chief Minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, who in 1995 was charged with having sex with a 15-year-old girl.  When the opposition Democratic Action Party leader  Lim Guan Eng brought the matter to the attention of parliament, Lim was instead charged with sedition and the 15 year-old girl was arrested as well.

Police have been accused of suppressing crime figures, and the government of suppressing additional problems. Ministers have denied that this is a “Malay problem” and religious authorities have put the blame on the victims. Incest, rape and pedophilia are not even mentioned in the Government’s transformation initiative to fight crime.

The brutality of some cases is shocking. Just recently, a 17 year old girl, Intan Suraya Mawardia, was raped and had her throat cut, allegedly by her security guard boyfriend in Balik Pulau, a rustic township on the back side of Penang Island. A security guard with possible accomplices gang raped, sodomized, and strangled to death an 8 year old girl in the Tanjung Putih orangutan preserve in Johor. A bus driver, Hanafi Mat Hassan raped and a strangled computer engineer, Noor Suzaily Mukthar in a bus at a remote site in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam. 

Over the past decade or so, cases of children raped by close relatives who should be trusted protectors of children are horrific.

Betraying children

A man with multiple wives sought their assistance to rape five of his daughters aged between 12-15 years repeatedly over a period of 18 months until one of the daughters reported him to the police. Two became pregnant and had abortions.

A stepfather had repeated sex with an underage stepdaughter who gave birth to a stillborn child at school. Another stepfather raped his 11 year old stepdaughter when her mother and elder sister were not at home.

A girl was locked up by her father in a room where she was repeatedly sexually abused with objects.

A grandfather and uncle together repeatedly raped their granddaughters and nieces while they were looking after them over a two year period. It was only when one of the children became pregnant the mother found out and made a police report.

Many cases of incest involve adults as well. There are many cases of fathers and daughters having consensual sex. In Kelantan a 47 year old mother and 22 year old son were fined and jailed for incest

A rape is reported every two and a half hours in Malaysia. However there could be as many as 40 rapes a day occurring across the country.

A 2013 Parliamentary report recorded more than 3,000 cases of rape and incest, of which 1,424 directly involved rape. 90 percent of these rape cases involved underage girls, with 80 percent of the accused perpetrators known by the victim. It is estimated that only 20 percent of rapes and incest are reported. In only 20 percent of those reported are the accused actually charged, with only 3 percent actually convicted.

Contact abuse, voyeurism, self-exposure, and child pornography are not included in the above statistics.

In many of these cases, rapes were carried out not by strangers, but by people close to the victims. The perpetrators were people who were supposed to be protectors of the victims – fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and even mothers. Most go unreported until a pregnancy occurs.

The majority of perpetrators of these crimes come from low socio-economic rural environments, many from plantations, are relatively uneducated and earning below average wages. Some 66 percent of the perpetrators were Malays, 82 percent were over 50 years old, while the victims were under 16. Perpetrators often claim sex is their right from a daughter and that the acts are consensual. They often claim that the victim was manja (affectionate), and the act occurred because of ‘suka sama suka’ (consent), even though she was a child. Some claimed the children were temptresses and “ripe for the plucking.”

A prison department director-general, Zaman Khan once asked a father why he had raped his own daughter. He reported that the man replied: “As a father, I had planted the seed before my child was born. Thus I am rightfully the person to taste the fruit before anybody else.”

Research indicates that many perpetrators believe “‘women were created to fulfil men’s dreams,” that men are “meant to lead women” and “women need to be taught and shown the right way”. Some have said their daughters were motivated by lust and that by satisfying them at home, their daughters were less likely to stray.

Many perpetrators have a proprietary attitude of ownership over their children according to Universiti Sains researcher Rohana Ariffin, and Rachel Samuel of UiTM Melaka. The study said men often used persuasion, coercion, manipulation, the power of their relationship, and religious dogma to have sex with their victims. Some believe that the Quran allows them ownership over their daughters and claimed they are rightfully their sex slaves according to Islam.