"Teacher, what does this word mean? s-t-a-t-u-t-o-r-y."
I looked at Suren and sighed.
We were in the middle of a writing exercise, writing a formal letter to be exact, and here was Suren, ever-ready with a special question.
" Where did you get the word?"
"Err, today's Star."
Arggghh, I just remembered the headlines for that day's news.
"You mean this words?" I walked to the board and wrote the phrase - statutory rape - on the wall.
One of the perils of being an English language teacher is that the students treat you like a walking dictionary. No, make it a walking encyclopaedia.
"Yes, that's it!" said Suren with an excited voice.
"That word means that when a person has sex with an under-aged girl who is less than 16 years old, he can be jailed for statutory rape," I replied.
"But why is he not jailed?" asked Suren again, referring to a national squad bowler.
I looked at their eager faces, those Fifth Formers of mine, the class which I took over recently when their regular teacher fell terribly sick and had to go on a long medical leave.
I could hear the bell tinkling loudly in my mind. There goes a properly planned lesson. To be postponed due to the urgency of the moment.. sigh.
" Well, the Malaysian law states that if a person has sex with a girl who is less than 16 years old, he can be jailed, because the girl is considered too immature to think for herself and agree to having sex. But based on this report, the judge decided to bound him for 5 years, and not send him to jail."
"Why is he not jailed? Just because he is a athlete?" Wani voiced her dissatisfaction.
"Bound for 5 years means that if he is caught having sex with another under-aged girl, he will go straight to jail," I explained.
"You mean we cannot have sex until the girl is 16 years old?"
"You will be jailed if the girl reported you to the police. If she's not yet 16 years old, you will be charged under this act, statutory rape. But if she's already 16 years and above, then the police will look for proof."
"Even if she agrees.. err, consensual?" Halim read from the newspaper.
"If she's below 16, yes.. even if it's consensual sex, meaning both the boy and girl agree to do it together, no force at all. Because the girl is considered a child until her 16th birthday."
"If we have sex with a 15 years old girl in America, will we be jailed?" Peter asked.
"Peter, I believe America does not have the same law like we have here in Malaysia. No, you will not be jailed for that. But don't try that, ok. Save your virginity, your 'dara' and 'teruna' until your marriage day. "
The students laughed.
" Take it from an experienced person, the only one who's married in this class. If you already have sex before marriage, what else is special that you can give your husband and wife on your marriage day? Believe me, the moment when you as 'teruna and dara' touched each other's hands on your wedding night, the electric current sent by your hands will be very very special...so darlings, save your virginity until your wedding day, ok. "
"Teacher ni laaa..!" they roared.
I smiled my sweetest.
If I had entertained their questions further, I might be asked tougher ones, like using condoms, oral sex, etc. I don't mind really, but I wouldn't like it if my boss happens to walk by and hear us talking about protected and pre-marital sex.
You'd never know with these teenagers. They do have a lot of unanswered questions but nobody to ask.
Teens today are not stupid. They read and they make their own conclusion.
From my survey, I know that most of my 'darlings' who do read and know about the recent 'fiasco' at the courts, disagree with the judges' verdicts in letting off the male offenders so lightly.
And I worry.
I worry each time my dear female students are absent from school and their parents are unaware of their daughters' whereabouts. Because I know that some of them, as young as 13, have older boyfriends who meet them outside the school compound.
And I know that those girls, despite their growing bodies, are quite naive, and can be easily tricked.
RM50 to them is a lot of money.
Ok, I won't say further.
If by Allah's will, in the near future, one of those judges' under-aged daughters is found to have unprotected sex with a man with 'a promising future', would he come to the same decision he made last week?
Would he not impose a jail sentence for the man who had consensual sex with his daughter and have him bound for 5 years?
I do wonder...
Would you want your under-aged daughter to see a man who had sex with her go free?
note: In view of the recent news: