Thursday, July 13, 2006

DAILY EXPRESS : Jail term upped for rape; down for incest


Jail term upped for rape; down for incest

Kuala Lumpur: Rape will be punishable by up to 30 years jail and whipping compared to the present maximum 20 years plus whipping under an amendment to the Penal Code tabled in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, who moved the amendment Bill, said the most severe penalty would be applied in cases of a man committing gang rape or rape in the presence of others, rape resulting in injury to the victim or others and rape of a pregnant woman.

He said the maximum penalty would also be applied in the case of man who raped a woman below 16 years without her consent, raped a girl below 12 years with or without her consent or raped a woman by using his position of authority even with her consent.

"The penalty for all these categories of rape is a minimum jail term of five years to a maximum of 30 years and could include whipping," he said.

In other categories of rape, there is no minimum jail term and the maximum remains at 20 years plus whipping, he added.

The proposed changes to the Penal Code were recommended by a parliamentary select committee which conducted public hearings.

In the case of incest, Radzi said the present minimum 15 years jail would be reduced to eight years because it was felt the longer imprisonment discouraged the victim from reporting the crime.

He said the committee recommended that the death sentence for rape that caused the death of the victim be replaced with either the death sentence or a minimum 15 years jail to a maximum 30 years plus not less than 10 strokes of the cane.

"The change in the punishment is based on the consideration that the accused in some rape cases did not have the intention to cause the death of his victim," he said.

He said the Bill introduced a new section that provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years jail and whipping for a person having sex with another by inserting an object in the vagina or anus without the other person's consent.

On the issue of marital rape, Radzi said the committee did not agree that it be made an offence in Malaysia on the ground that it would be inconsistent with the syariah and the practices of other religions.

However, he said, the committee recommended the inclusion of a provision to punish a husband who injured his wife or placed her or others in fear of death or injury with the intention of having sex with her.

"The offence is punishable by a jail term not exceeding five years. This punishment does not conflict with the principles of any religion. In this context, the stress is on injury caused by a husband against his wife," he said.

Radzi said the Bill also proposed to reclassfify snatch theft as robbery that would be punishable by the higher imprisonment of up to 14 years plus whipping instead of seven years for theft.

Another change to the Penal Code is abolishing the distinction between an offence of criminal intrusion committed in daytime or night.

Radzi said the distinction was no longer practical and effective.

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