The Sabah Welfare Department is taking steps to take a 13-year-old alleged rape victim under its care and protection while trying to nullify her marriage to the man accused of having sex with her.
Announcing this, state Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad appealed to the prosecution to go ahead with the statutory rape charge against 40-year-old restaurant manager Riduan Masmud, who was charged on 28th February with statutory rape of the girl inside a car parked by the roadside.
Jainab said she had directed her officers to take immediate action to obtain a court order to have the girl placed under the care and protection of the department under the Child Act 2001. She also cast doubts on the legality of the marriage between Riduan and the girl after checking with Syariah court officials:
The girl is young and cannot decide for herself. She needs counselling and we have to hear her side. She was 12 years and six months old when the alleged offence took place. A registrar told me there were two applications one from the man seeking consent to take a second wife, and another from the father of the girl seeking permission for his daughter to marry.
They told me the father’s application was allowed but there was no consent given for the man to take a second wife. Is it to hide the shame? Is it (the marriage) going to resolve the matter? This is very disturbing.
On a personal note, she said she was saddened that the father had allowed his daughter to marry Riduan, who has four children, aged two to 17 years.
The Sessions Court on Monday gave the prosecution until 6th June to decide on whether it wanted to proceed with rape charges against Riduan after the girl withdrew the rape report against him on 18th April.