The country was rocked when the news from Sabah came in May: a 40-year-old man had been charged with raping a 12-year-old girl. That alone would have been horrific enough. Then it emerged that the alleged rapist, Riduan Masmud, went on to take the victim as his second wife in exchange for the dropping of charges, complete with her parents’ and his first wife’s consent.
The outrage since then has been palpable and brought up tough questions on the legality of child marriage in Malaysia. Last month, the Penang Institute hosted a forum on "Protecting Our Children: Evaluating Statutory Rape" at Wawasan Open University to evaluate the legal and social framework surrounding child marriage.
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