GEORGE TOWN: Although reported rapes in Penang indicate a reduction over the past six years, the majority of cases involving victims aged 17 and below stands at 78 per cent of the total number of cases comprising 462, and the police are viewing the matter seriously.
According to Penang police chief Datuk T. Narenasagaran, while 100 rapes were recorded in 2014, the January to October period this year has seen 68 cases; while cases for other years comprised 76 in 2015, 65 (2016), 79 (2017), and 74 (2018).
“Even if just one rape case is recorded, we view it seriously and it is a concern to society. We need to address and prevent this situation early so that it does not worsen in the future,” he told Bernama recently.
Narenasagaran explained that cases concerning underage victims were particularly concerning, with those aged 13 to 15 comprising the largest group totalling 264 cases.
Cases of victims aged 16 to 17 totalled 67, while victims aged 12 and below, involved 28 cases.
During the six-year period from 2014 to 2019, in 42 per cent of cases (193), the victims’ boyfriends were the suspected rapists.
“Many of these couples engaged in sexual intercourse voluntarily but as the victims were underage, the cases had to be investigated as rapes,” said the police chief, adding that in another 30 per cent of cases (139), the victims were acquainted with the suspects, while 54 cases comprised situations in which the perpetrators were family members of victims.
In a total of 33 cases, the suspects were new acquaintances of the victims, while in another 43 cases, the victims did not know the suspects.
“All women, irrespective of their ages, need to be more careful to avoid becoming victims of rape,” Narenasagaran explained.
Apart from the importance of parents and teachers educating children on improper touching and situations of rape, the police through their school liaison officers (PPS), are conducting briefings at schools in the state, with the aim of raising awareness among students on criminal laws pertaining to the rape of underage victims, also known as statutory rape.
In this connection, Narenasagaran said his team was prioritising the school briefings as part of efforts to reduce the incidence of rape involving underage victims.
“Many of them (students) do not know of the punishment which will be meted out on an offender even though sexual intercourse is conducted with the consent of the (underage) victim. What I want to stress on is that under the law, this is a crime.
“I also advise female students to look after themselves and not to engage in sexual relationships although they may want to do so voluntarily. Now is the time to focus on their studies to become successful individuals in the future,” he said.
A number of non-governmental organisations in the state are also actively involved in disseminating information and conducting awareness-raising sessions for women particularly schoolgirls, on rape, added Narenasagaran.