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Published On: Fri, Nov 13th, 2015

Incest, rape and paedophilia within the Malay Heartlands

Murray Hunter (nsnbc) : Over recent years Malay kampong life has witnessed a massive rise in drug use, crime, domestic violence, incest, and rape. The rural heartland of Malaysia has a dark-side, with an increase in incidence of domestic and social problems. Decades of state neglect and politicization of infrastructure at the very grassroots of society has been accompanied with a decay of social morals and ethics.

sweety2_Child sex_child sex abuseThe repulsiveness of incest, rape and paedophilia is destroying the social fabric of Malay society. The police have been accused of supressing crime figures, the Government accused of supressing the problem, ministers have denied that this is a ‘Malay problem’, religious authorities have put the blame on the victims, and the public are apathetic to the problem.

Incest, rape, and paedophilia were not even mentioned in the Government’s transformation initiative to fight crime. Even the most hardened person would be shocked at the brutality in some of the cases. Just recently, a 17 year old girl Intan Suraya Mawardi was allegedly raped and had her throat cut by a security guard who was her boyfriend in Balik Pulau, Penang. A security guard with possible accomplishes gang raped, sodomized, and strangled to death an 8 year old girl Nurul Huda Abdul Ghani , Tanjung Putih, in Johor. A bus driver Hanafi Mat Hassan brutally raped and strangled computer engineer Noor Suzaily Mukthar in a bas at a remote place in Shah Alam.

Cases of children raped by close relatives who should be trusted protectors of children are horrific. A man with multiple wives, sort their assistance to rape five of his daughters who were 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 step daughter, 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 reported rape occurs every two and a half hours in Malaysia. However there could be as many as 40 rapes a day occurring across the country.

According to a Parliamentary report, in 2013 there were over 3,000 cases of rape and incest reported, of which 1,424 directly involved rape. 90% of these rape cases involved underage girls. 80% of the accused perpetrators were known by the victim. Estimates put it that only 20% of rapes and incest that takes place is actually reported. Out of those reports only 20% of accused are actually charged, and only 3% are 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 came from low socio-economic rural environments, many from FELDA areas, were relatively uneducated, and earning below average wages. 66% of the perpetrators were Malays, 82% were over 50 years old, while the victims were under 16 years old. The perpetrators would claim that sex was their right from a daughter and the acts were consensual. They claimed 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 ‘right for the plucking’.

A prison department director-general Zaman Khan once asked why a father raped his own daughter, 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 indicated that many perpetrators believed that ‘women were created to fulfil men’s dreams”, “men are meant to lead women”, and “women need to be taught and shown the right way”. Some used the logic that their daughters were motivated by lust and by satisfying them at home, their daughters were less likely to go with others.

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

The perpetrators didn’t see sex with their daughters, granddaughters, or nieces as rape, because no violence was used. Boyfriends blamed the girl’s parents, stating that the parents didn’t like him. Others blamed pornography and uncontrolled lust.

Many committed incest while their wives were pregnant and unavailable for sex, or were going through menopause.

One of the major problems in rural areas is that the young children themselves had no idea that these acts of incest were actually morally wrong, as they trusted the perpetrators word. Mothers are very hesitant to report incest crimes to the police because of the stigma involved for the daughter and themselves in a small community and the fear of losing a breadwinner, if their husband is jailed.

Lack of Institutional Sympathy for Victims

Victims of rape and incest suffer trauma. Some feel guilty about what happened, especially if the father is punished and imprisoned and blame within the family put on her. This often makes the victim feel degraded and humiliated. Some become pregnant and either have an abortion or become a mother, which creates great stigma and feelings of shame in a small community. Many become withdrawn from others. They develop low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. This can affect their relationships with others during their lifetime, where they may become mistrustful of others. They may also develop abnormal and develop distorted views on sex. In some cases victims become suicidal.

Unfortunately much social comment on the subject of rape and incest is not very helpful in solving the problem. Controversial social commentator and professor Riduan Tee puts the blame on alcohol consumption for rape and incest, which just doesn’t fit the facts. He uses Islamic dogma to make his case and calls on closing all breweries to solve the problem.

Religious leaders and politicians have created myths that men are enticed by women’s dressing styles and tried to shift the blame away from the perpetrators to the victims. Recently, the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) prepared a Friday sermon urging women to cover their bodies to prevent themselves becoming victims of sexual crimes like rape and incest.

An Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia earlier this year has made statements that when a man marries a woman, there is no need to get consent for sex. At a HUDUD seminar held in Bangi recently, Ustaz Hakim Othman claimed that “most sexual cases involve false accusations”.

This attitude is also developing within the younger generation aswell. Munirah Bahari, a vice president of the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia stated that the white baju kurung (school uniform) was transparent and thus too sexy and lured rapists.

These ideas are little help in solving such a serious problem facing Malay society today.

The problem of rape and incest in the rural heartlands of Malaysia needs more attention. Failure to act makes Malaysia less safe for children. Malaysia is one of the highest countries in the world for rape and incest cases, and to date the problem has received very little government attention.

Amending any laws will not solve the problem, there are deep educational, economic, and social issues involved.

People in these poorer rural areas of Malaysia feel powerless due to the lack of opportunities around them. According to Dr Rohana, a culture of poverty has been created in the rural heartlands of Malaysia. People grow up resenting others, and transfer their aggression on the easiest victims they can find.

Frustration and feelings of powerlessness are increasing the levels of aggression in rural societies today.

Rape and incest is increasing within the Malay heartlands where morals have become skewed due to distorted religious ideas. The strict and repressive moral codes publically enforced may have created some form of psychological rebellion where people are escaping this repression through lewd acts of sexuality.

The dogma and manipulated repression by those who utilize Islam for their own ends must be fought through education.

Parks, recreation facilities, lonely roads, and other remote places have become rife with couples engaging in sex throughout the country today.

One potential cause of the problem could lie within the patriarchal system of Malay culture itself, where women are taught to be gentle, sweet, and submissive to elders. This allows elders to take advantage.

Rape and incest could be seen as a result of uneven feudal power relations and a distorted perception of women within Malay rural society. Dr Rohana’s research indicated that many incest and rape cases occurred because of an elder persuading, coercing, and manipulating a younger person.

Girls are still being treated as a lessor member of the family and provided with dolls, play tea sets, and taught to cook, look after a household, and be emotionally dependent upon males. There is an unequal balance of power between the genders in rural Malay society today. Husbands are still considered the unquestioned head of the family in rural areas today.

The position of women is still culturally suppressed in Malaysia. Women are still stereotyped as subservient to males. This can be seen in the number of parliamentary seats women hold and the way women are treated within the civil service. With these hanging over attitudes, it will be very difficult to teach boys to respect women as equals – the generational solution to the problem.

The long term solution is a cultural shift of Malay culture, which will meet great resistance within society, as the current balance of power favours chauvinistic males who hold the reigns of power with little female intellectual input.

The educational system, mosques, and grassroots organizations like KEMAS must begin a massive information dissemination program to deal with these problems where they are happening. Better education, social and economic opportunities are required to enlighten and bring rural folk into modern Malaysia. Rape and incest statistics hint at a major rural development policy failure on behalf of the government.

Finally the government needs to take a strong moral stand rather than a legal stand. It has to convince people that rape and incest is taboo, and the lowest form of life. The escape of former Chief Minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik from statutory rape charges more than a decade ago, indicates the poor moral stance the Malaysian Government has taken on the issues of rape and incest in the past.

M/H – nsnbc 13.11.2015

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About the Author

- Murray Hunter is an academic at University Malaysia Perlis and sometimes consults to government on development and entrepreneurship within the ASEAN region. Murrey Hunter contributes to several international media, including our partner media, The 4th Media in Beijing, Asian Sentinel and others. Murray Hunter became a regular contributor to nsnbc international in May 2013.

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  1. Debbie says:

    Thank you Murray Hunter for this article. Thank you nsnbc for being one of the very few newspapers that consistently covers the issue of child abuse even though your extremely ethical ad partner YIELD SELECT censors ads from these articles – SHAME ON YIELD SELECT – Thanks to nsnbc!!!!

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