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Al-Fatihah

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Innocent until proven guilty

It was reported in today’s The Star that a rape accused was released by the Sessions Court after the Court found that the victim is still a virgin.

The Sessions Court Judge was reported to have said that the doctor who examined the victim stated that the girl was still a virgin and there had been no penetration.

If the doctor said that the victim is still virgin and there was no penetration, how did the prosecution came to a decision to charge the accused? Didn’t they have access to the medical report prior to charging the accused? I am sure that the prosecution must have their own basis to charge the accused in Court but the medical report on the victims condition i.e. no penetration makes me puzzled. That is very basic. What are the elements of rape? Is it a rape when there is no penetration? Definitely not.

Under Section 375 of the Penal Code, rape is said to have taken place when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, among others, against her will and without her consent. Explanation to Section 375 provides that penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.
While one can lost the virginity for other reasons than sexual intercourse, the key word here is penetration. Can sexual intercourse take place without penetration? The answer is “no”. No penetration, means no sexual intercourse. No sexual intercourse means no rape. As simple as that.

However, on top of all that, I pity the accused, a 30-year old odd-job worker. He had been remanded for 4 years for nothing. What a waste of his precious time. Who to blame? The prosecution? The Investigating Officer? The system? Is there any remedy for him?

Rape is a non-bailable offence which simply means the accused can either be granted or refused bail. It depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. In this case, for reasons best known to the parties involved in the case, the bail was denied, causing the accused spending four years of his life in the prison.

When a person is denied bail, it is best that the hearing be expedite. In this case, I think four years is a long time to discharge the case. We need to remember this-“a man is innocent until proven guilty”.

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