Sack Shabudin Yahya: Marriage doesn't solve rape!
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The government and its leading UMNO party are already jumping to the defense of Tasek Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahya, who said in Parliament today (5 April 2017) that marriage between a rape victim and the rapist was a possible remedy for social problems. Penang Umno Wanita chief Jahara Hamid has claimed that Shabudin was "merely expressing his view".
The statement displays the raw sexism present at the higher levels of the government. It falls squarely in line with instances in other countries where conservative politicians have blamed women's dress and behaviour for rape, and defended their actions by claiming freedom of speech.
While Shabudin felt that marriage would correct the "wild lifestyles" that some underage girls had, he felt that marriage would help rapists repent, and that it was unfair to call a rapist "a useless and evil person forever". This is transparently a double standard.
He further claimed that girls as young as 9 who had hit puberty were "physically and spiritually ready for marriage". Shabudin made these remarks during a Parliamentary debate about a motion to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill.
The comments come on the same day as revelations that Malindo Air subjects prospective flight attendants to a screening procedure that involved removing their tops for inspection of "scars and marks". Similar procedures have been removed in other airlines over decades of campaigning and industrial action.
Victim-blaming is offensive and totally unhelpful. It does not address the root causes of rape and domestic violence in our society, which are pervasive sexism and the sexual alienation of people including men. We still live in a world with a systematic gendered wage gap, mass objectification of women in media and in the workplace, egregious moral policing and disregard for the domestic labour of wives and mothers.
As long as women's sexuality is blamed for rape, as long as women are considered sinful and told to how to dress, we will not be able to treat rape as seriously as it deserves to be treated. Marriage, relationships and sex are choices. Whatever they wear, wherever they go, YES means YES, NO means NO.
We the undersigned declare that if UMNO and BN wish to retain any credibility in dealing with women's issues going forward, Shabudin Yahya must be removed from UMNO immediately and be made to apologise to the country, especially to rape victims.
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