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KUCHING, Feb 14: Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) lauded the recommendations by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) for Women, Children and Social Development to ensure the rights of underage rape survivors who committed neonaticide (killing of a baby by its mother within 24 hours of birth) are fully protected.
When such tragedies occurred, SWWS stressed that all children in conflict with the law in Malaysia should be charged with infanticide, not murder, and have access to legal and psychological support.
This recommendation by PSSC on Feb 11 came following a recent case in Terengganu where a 15-year-old girl, who gave birth to an infant conceived through rape, was swiftly removed from the hospital to lock up after the baby boy was found dead with stab wounds.
The girl was investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
“A proper guideline is needed to guide all authorities to respond to such cases, in view that the young mother could be traumatised and suffer distress that led her to such a desperate act.
“Infanticide is in the Penal Code which recognises that such tragic actions occur when a woman is in a post-partum emotional state and had given birth in circumstances which are socially stigmatising and isolating,” SWWS explained in a press release today.
According to PSSC, infanticide, unlike murder, is a bailable offence under Section 309A of the Penal Code.
Between 2010 to May 2019, Malaysia recorded 1,010 cases of baby dumping in which the babies were found dead in 64 per cent of those cases.
As such, SWWS called for a clear guideline to be developed and implemented to ensure that when such incidents occur, the perpetrator is charged with infanticide and treated humanely, including immediate access to medical, psychiatric, and legal services.
Such legislation has a long history, first enacted in the United Kingdom in 1922. SWWS viewed that it is unfair for Malaysia in the 21st century to still charge women and children for murder in such circumstances.
“When the mother is under 18, the child protection officer should ensure the young traumatised mother can reside in a safe, supportive place where charges are being investigated, and make recommendations to the judge after that,” it said.
SWWS also supports the recommendations that all children in conflict with the law in Malaysia be given access to free legal services following the principles of the Child Act (2001) and in the best interests of the child, as prescribed by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of a Child to which Malaysia is a signatory.
“To ensure this is implemented effectively, all relevant parties must be trained on the proposed guideline which should be incorporated into the plan of action and resources allocated to ensure all those charged before the courts, regardless of their economic background, have the services of a lawyer,” SWWS added. — DayakDaily