Malaysia: Women’s groups insist that marital rape be made a crime

Rakyat Post

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11, 2015:

Rajina Dhillon

The government has missed the opportunity to help women realise that marital rape is wrong, according to the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).

WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said the organisation had witnessed several instances where women were unaware that they should not be coerced into having sex, whether they were in a marital relationship or otherwise.

“We have statistics from 2014 that show 36% of survivors face sexual violence from partners. These includes those who were married and those who were not.

“So it is unfortunate that our government had an opportunity to amend the legislation to give meaning to this approach, but they seem to have decided not to take that opportunity at this time,” she told The Rakyat Post when contacted.

Sumitra said the negative implication of the decision was heightened when it involved minors, especially those in a marital relationship.

“The fundamental issue remains that rape is violent. So until we make it a crime, we are condoning it.

“But we will continue to press for the legislation to protect married women who don’t want to have sex.”

Sisters in Islam (SIS) was equally disappointed by the government’s decision yesterday.

SIS communications officer Aliah Ali noted that the Parliamentary Select Committee Report stated that the objection to the amendment was because it contradicted syariah law.

“However, SIS again points out that Islam is a religion that espouses love and compassion in marriage. This includes sexual relations between husband and wife. As clearly stated in Surah An-Nisa (4:19): ‘…it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion’,” she told The Rakyat Post.

Aliah also alluded to recent reports stating rough sex by husbands was among the top reasons for divorce cases among Muslims in Selangor, saying this was an indication of marital violence.

The report by Malay daily Harian Metro quoted Selangor Islamic Department’s (Jais) Aluwi Parman as having said that husbands who enjoyed rough sex was among the reasons why marriages failed.

“This reality shows that sexual violence occurs in marriages and there needs to be a recognition that marriage does not negate the crime of rape.

“SIS hopes for the recognition and criminalisation of marital rape to protect women, regardless of religion, as marriage should be one of love and compassion. Until and unless marital rape is criminalised, women will still live in fear of sexual violence,”  Aliah said.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri today revealed that the government had decided not to outlaw marital rape.

The de-facto Law Minister said the decision to retain Section 375 of the Penal Code was based on the findings of a special Parliamentary Select Committee in 2006.

Under Section 375, a man is said to have committed rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman against the woman’s will, without her consent, through misconception or if he has sexual intercourse with a woman under 16 years of age.

Section 375 does not provide for marital rape.