Home Civil Society Voices Follow Singapore’s example; criminalise marital rape

Follow Singapore’s example; criminalise marital rape

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The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has urged the Malaysian government to reform rape laws that permit husbands to rape their wives, following Singapore’s tabling of a bill to repeal marital immunity to rape on 11 February 2019.

It also applauded the Singapore government for taking positive measures to enhance women’s rights by removing the exception to marital rape.

“We urge Malaysia to follow suit with its own Penal Code amendment to remove the exception to the offence of rape for non-consensual sex occurring in a marriage,” stated WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan.

Like Singapore’s Penal Code prior to the amendments under consideration by their Parliament, Malaysia’s Penal Code—also inherited from the British—defines rape in Section 375, but then explicitly exempts husbands who rape their wives from the offence.

“Sexual assault within marriage is a serious crime. Removing the exception to marital rape protects wives and sends a strong message that all rape is heinous. According to available data, 11% of domestic violence survivors in Malaysia have been raped by their abusive spouses. We must act quickly and decisively to end this abuse,” said Sumitra.

A 2014 Universiti Sains Malaysia study estimated that 9% of ever-partnered women in Peninsular Malaysia have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, while 11%, or around 100,000 of these women, have been raped by their intimate partner during their lifetime.

Last October, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin’s stated that the government did not plan to criminalise marital rape.

But Hannah Yeoh, the Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, later said the government would bring stakeholders to the table to discuss amending Section 375 to remove the exception to marital rape.

“If we do not change our laws, this government will be continuing to enable abuse,” said Sumitra.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Cheng Eak Chew
21 Feb 2019 10.45am

Haha ……. that would be impossible to implement in this land …… as many Ulama would not agree on such “term” ….

Sea Tea Oon
20 Feb 2019 6.26pm

Sad thing abt Msians, we are to arrogant to humble ourselves to learn from Spore thinking that we lose face. As students of learning skills & technology, it’s always ok to lose face in the initial plhase just like how China had to humble themselves 30 yrs ago to learn from as many successful countries (including a tiny red dot Spore) as they cld & the world salute their phenomenal achievements today. In fact, Spore was the first miracle nation to rise fr 3rd world to 1st world wtithin 30 short yrs. Msia is never too late to learn from those who had proven track record & Spore is one closest neighbor Msia could do so. It’s not the size but it’s getting the right systems to work efficiently & effectively that matters most. And the science & art of integrating all these diversed systems to work for advancement & progress of the nation.

Fizz Arshad
20 Feb 2019 5.26pm

Singapore has less religious baggage to deal with- that’s why it can be progressive on matters such as these

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