Don’t Jail Teens For Having Sex

Many people were upset when a 21-year-old national bowler escaped imprisonment recently for statutory rape, after the appeals court bound him over for five years instead for good behaviour.

The appeals court had set aside a five-year jail term by the high court in lieu of the good behaviour bond.

The bowler committed the offence against a 13-year-old girl in June 2009, according to Bernama, which means that he was only 18 at that time.

According to a report by The Star in 2011, both of them were lovers at the time of the incident.

Bernama reported the appeals court as saying that the consensual sexual relationship between the two was considered, as well as the fact that the bowler had a “bright future”.

Some people questioned if he was given a lighter sentence due to his fame as a national tenpin bowling ace.

Rather than condemn the judiciary for supposedly letting off a young man because of his status, we should commend them for imposing on a 21-year-old an alternative punishment to imprisonment.

After all, he was only 18 when he had sex with the 13-year-old girl. Does he deserve to go to jail for having sex with his girlfriend?

All we know from the media is that they were lovers at that time. We don’t know if he knew she was 13, or if he knew that it was illegal to have sex with a girl below the age of 16.

The judiciary must realise, however, that every youth has a bright future, regardless of whether they are a bowler or a regular joe playing Warcraft all day.

Hence, this case should be a precedent for similar cases involving all sorts of youths, not just famous athletes.

An 18-year-old man having sex with a 13-year-old girlfriend is vastly different from a 40-year-old man getting it on with a girl less than half his age, or a girl being forced into having sex.

I am a feminist and believe that all children should be protected, especially from sexual abuse.

Perpetrators in the last two cases deserve the harshest punishment like imprisonment as they are clear examples of sexual abuse.

But in the bowler’s case, he may not have intended to sexually abuse his girlfriend.

Both boys and girls below the age of 16 are likely not mature enough to understand the physical and emotional effects of having sex, among other things. Hence, the age of consent is necessary to protect them.

Will consensual sex among teenagers be deterred by sending this bowler, who is barely an adult and can’t even vote yet, to jail?

I don’t think so.

Teenagers will simply keep their sex lives a secret. Teenage girls may lie about their age, or even have abortions to save their partners from being jailed.

We should not be asking ourselves whether a young man should be sent to jail for having sex with his teenage girlfriend.

Instead, we should ask ourselves why a 13-year-old girl had sex at such a tender age. Was it peer pressure? Did her partner pressure her into having sex because they were in love? Did she see some TV shows and want to experiment?

Teenagers need to be taught that it is not okay to have sex below the age of 16 because they may simply not be mature enough to handle sex, especially when unwanted pregnancies occur.

They need to know how to handle romantic relationships in their early teenage years, as well as their sexual desires.

Sending young people to jail is not going to teach teenagers anything, except to have sex without getting caught.

UPDATE: Read Also:

 


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I want to save the world. It would be great if the newspapers were full of the good things that people do instead of the usual wars and rapes and murders. I love writing - whether it's fiction, or research papers or reporting facts. I have published two short stories; one of which is called "City of Flesh" in an anthology titled "Urban Odysseys: KL Stories" under my pseudonym RK Boo. It's available in MPH bookstores. I've also published a preliminary qualitative study titled "Work Experiences of People with Mental Illness in Malaysia".

Posted on 10 August 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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22 Responses to Don’t Jail Teens For Having Sex

  1. Holy Brother

    How nice if our courts can be so creative and thoughtful in assessing the relevant facts before passing judgement in all the other cases as well !

  2. Cheryl Chok

    Great!

  3. farha

    Boo Su-Lyn, thank you for highlighting the fact that there is a dire need for teens to be educated about sex.

  4. Norshila Shahar

    You seem to be oblivious to the resounding message this sentence has given to male youths who are caught in the future! Their lawyers have now got the perfect precedent to get them off a jail sentence! sex education probably would have helped us educate young men but this case has seriously undermined that! So has your blog!

  5. tini Zainudin

    Su- Lynn, just to correct a mistake- the girl was not in a relationship with a young man. She ran his fan blog and was an ardent fan. He knew she was 13.

  6. Pepper Lim

    Nice!

  7. Paul Warren

    You thik it would have made any difference if the rapist's name was Arumugam and the girl was Aminah?

  8. ALVIN

    All you need to do is take a look across the causeway . There is an ongoing case where many prominent people and promising youngsters have been charged with statutory rape and the underage " victim " is actually a sex worker !! They mean business there. No two ways about it !

  9. KOK Yoon Lee

    KLChan33, sorry to be pedantic, but eighteen is still a “teen”. Agree with you on everything else though.

  10. Jay

    First of all, he was an adult and she was a minor at the time of the incident. The law is there to protect the minor due to the fact that minors are treated as not being fully capable of making decisions in relation to sexual relationships. Yes, their consent may not reflect the mature decision making of an adult. This is not a gender matter. Fact is if it were the other way round, an adult female having sex with a boy is still statutory rape. Also, agreeing with KL Chan's post, your interpretation of sexual abuse is forced sex and hence, disregarding the age of consent for consensual sex. What if the 10,11,12,13 year old minor consented to sex just because an adult buys him/her presents, or makes his/her partner happy? the law is there because minors generally cannot make educated decisions and do not know the consequences of sex at their young age.

    • NaviX

      Just to correct you. An adult woman having sex with a male minor would not be considered statutory rape. In Malaysia, statutory rape is considered as a male penetrating a woman's vagina. As a woman can't do that to a boy, it cannot be considered rape or even statutory rape. So yes, gender does matter in these cases.

  11. seriously?

    Well said, KLChan33. Why is the writer arguing from the perspective of minors when the perpetrator was already a legal adult when the incident occured?

    "Will thieves and murderers be deterred from sending offenders to jail? It won't teach them anything other than to steal without being caught!"

    A very weak argument, I'm afraid.

  12. KOK Yoon Lee

    Isn’t the purpose of “mandatory” to make it “mandatory”? How can judges go against what has been lawfully legislated? If society don’t want 18 year old rapists -that’s what he is, to go to jail, then they would not have voted in a parliament that enacted the law as it stands today. No mercy can be granted for whatever reason … that’s why there is a “mandatory” cause in the law. Perhaps he can hope for a Royal Pardon?

    • Jay

      You are right. The judge's job is to interpret the law wisely and apply the facts of the case to the law. In regards to the statutory law of rape and age of consent, it is pretty clear, no doubt whatsoever plus the minimum punishment is clear. This is nonsense. How can the judges ignore and give his own punishment? Good behaviour sentence generally is for minor crimes, or case lacking evidence or the fact that prosecution cannot prove without reasonable doubt. Anyway not applicable, he pleaded guilty, he should serve his sentence.

  13. KLChan33

    I think this is a shocking piece of logic.

    1. Your argument on not punishing teens for having sex has some merit but this is not a case of 2 teens getting it on. It is in your own words "An 18-year-old MAN having sex with a 13-year-old girlfriend".

    How are they two teens again when one is deemed legal age to drive or purchase alcoholic beverages while the other can't be legally employed without the employer being accused of using child labour?

    These are not TWO teens!

    2. The point of statutory rape is to prevent exploitation of a younger person (in Malaysia's case 16 and below). Exploitation in this respect includes tricking, luring or drawing a younger person to have "consensual" sex with an older person.

    The law deems those below 16 (for sex) as incapable of making sound judgement when it comes to sex and hence is enacted to prevent them from being taken advantage of.

    So how is this not rape when one is 18 and the other 13?

    3. "Does he deserve to go to jail for having sex with his girlfriend?"

    Do fathers, grandfathers, uncles deserve jail for having "consensual" sex with their underage nieces, daughters or granddaughters then?

    In statutory rape, consent is not a mitigating factor unless they are both equals (ie below 16).

    4. "I am a feminist and believe that all children should be protected, especially from sexual abuse."

    I think your interpretation of sexual abuse is very limited to forced sex. Again in this case, if the person is not deemed old enough to make certain decisions how is the sex not abuse in itself whether consensual or not?

    What if the girl was 12, 11 or even 10? Would the consensual sex be okay then?

    5. "Will consensual sex among teenagers be deterred by sending this bowler, who is barely an adult and can’t even vote yet, to jail?"

    Finally, this last sentence show how little you understand the rationale for statutory rape laws. The law is not meant to prevent teens from having sex. It is enacted to protect those below 16 from being exploited or tricked into having sex.

    • Sam

      KLChan33, good on you for your articulate response to this sick, woman. Rationality or logic goes out the window when absolute morals are replaced with relativistic self-satisfaction. That's why the law is irrelevant to her (unless of course, she is at the receiving end).Remember old Adolf? Just check out Boo's other shallow postings:

      "I went to a BDSM shop in New Zealand, where the owner was kind enough to let me “try” a leather flogger (costs NZ$100, which is RM255). So I just whipped myself on my palms. It’s not as easy as it sounds using a flogger with very long falls. It stings quite a bit. Suede floggers, on the contrary, feel rather nice and soft.
      I hope that my book will help people explore their darkest fantasies."

      She advocates and publishes sexual experimentation like it was equal to a LEGO playset. Wow! What a great social contribution! Want to save the world konon! Boo belongs to that species that refuses to acknowledge any moral absolute, but then goes on to pontificate on what others should and shouldn't do. (Notice how many times she uses words like "should", "should not", " must" and "need"?)

      Hey Boo, go to your dark corner and have fun with your BDSM gear. What goes around comes around, girl. Won't be much fun when it hits you..

      • balapillai

        When we run out of arguments, we attack the person.

        Why attack Su-Lyn for her candidness in her taste. You'd prefer the diabolical shit that is dished out by mediocre society and the resultant Sodomy 1, 2 and more?

        "What a man does in his bedroom is none of society's business" — Pierre Trudeau

    • Boo Su-Lyn

      @KLChan33: Good points.

      1) I said two teens because an 18-year-old is still a teenager.

      2) Yes, it's still statutory rape because girl's below 16. Age of consent is necessary to protect girls and boys from sexual abuse, as I've said. I'm arguing for a lighter punishment for the bowler because I think he deserves it as compared to five years jail. It's his first offense and he was only 18. Even if he's legally an adult, he prolly isn't as mature as a 40-year-old. If he were 40, he should go to jail.

      3) Fathers, granddads and uncles should go to jail because they are most likely a lot more mature than an 18-year-old. Also, that's incest.

      4) A 40-year-old man having sex with a 13-year-old girl is statutory rape and sex abuse. As I said, not so clear cut in bowler's case re abuse is because they are only 5 years apart and they were in a relationship. If she were 10 and he's 18, then that may be sexual abuse because of the age gap.

      5) Law is there to protect. I never advocated abolishing age of consent. But the judges had the discretion to use a lighter punishment on this bowler who was only 18. First time offense. Sending him to jail will not stop future 17 or 18 year olds from doing it with their younger girlfriends. Sex education might.

      • KLChan33

        Thank you for replying my comments, Su-Lyn.

        1. I do not believe you agree that statutory rape is okay no matter the ages and as such will not prolong that debate. What I do disagree with is your assertion that 18 is still a teenager. Other than the teen in eighteen, I don't see how he qualifies as one anymore.

        While I concede that a "Young Man's Defence" as written by K Shanmuga has been used and accepted in countries such as UK, Singapore, US etc. that is not the case here.

        "In the US, Romeo might be able to plead the exception of closeness in age as a valid defence to statutory rape. For example, it is an affirmative defence to sexual assault in the state of Texas “if the actor was fewer than 3 years older than the victim.

        Similarly, in Canada the exception close-in-age applies; minors aged 14 or 15 years old may have sex with a partner who is less than 5 years older, while children aged between 12 and 13 years old may have sex with a partner 2-3 years older.

        However, the exception does not apply in the UK.  Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (U.K.), 2003, c. 42, s. 13, a person under 18 who commits the offence engaging in sexual activity with a child, defined under s. 9, will be deemed to have committed the same offence as if he did so as an adult above 18. However, the same section provides for lower penalties where the offender is a minor." – http://www.singaporelawreview.org/2010/02/romeo-k

        Even if we were to take the Canadian viewpoint on the age gaps, the Man in this case does not qualify anymore. And the courts have been right to accept that it is statutory rape.

        The only question left, is whether a custodial sentence is a better deterrent than a probationary one. In this respect, I agree with Childline Malaysia in the statement issued yesterday. A crucial point highlighted in the statement is how statutory rape now accounts for 54% of all rape cases. https://www.facebook.com/notes/childline-malaysia

        So how does a probationary sentence deter others again?

        Btw sex education is of course the better way to teach minors not to have sex at an early age. But this case is already after the fact, and that discussion is unrelated to the sentencing.

        • Boo Su-Lyn

          Interesting points on the various "young man's defence" laws in other countries. In UK though, they differentiate between the girl's age – under 16 (section 6) and under 13 (section 5). The young man's defence (ie: mistaking the girl's age) applies to girls under 16. http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/sexual_offence

          In any case, I'm not arguing for the guy to be found innocent. He was found guilty. There is an option to give him a lighter sentence. So I agree with the court's decision, as he was only 18 and the sex was so-called "consensual". Legally, he is an adult. But I doubt 18-year-olds are very mature; they may not even know what age of consent is.

          If a probationary sentence can't even be used in this instance, what can it be used for? If the guy had sex with the girl just three days before his 18th birthday, should he still be sentenced to jail? The incident reportedly happened on June 5, 2009. If he was born in January, then at best, he's only 18 years and 5 months old.

          Or should every single statutory rape case only have jail sentences?

          The fact that statutory rape accounts for 54% of all rape cases is alarming. Let's put aside incest cases, where the perpetrator is decades older than the girl, and forcible rape cases. This shows that there are likely a great number of underage girls willingly having sex, whether it's with another 15-year-old boy (still counts as statutory rape) or 18-year-old guy.

          There may even be cases of 15-year-old boys having sex with 18-year-old girls (although this doesn't count as statutory rape).

          Should we lock all of them up?

          Sex education is crucial to this discussion. As long as we are fixated on sentencing a young man to jail for having sex with his underage girlfriend, we will never be able to reduce the number of statutory rape cases, especially those that involve minors in "suka sama suka" cases.

  14. Eina

    He is an adult and was an adult at the time of the incident – he should be in jail. And the reason for letting his escape is abhorrent.

    I say this as the father of a 14 year old girl – who is not old enough to make these decisions and needs to be protected by the law from adults who would try to take advantage.