Jumaat, 3 Julai 2015

Government's decision to keep Section 375 of the Penal code which does not criminalise marital rape shows it is regressive, patriarchal and a threat to women from all walks of life.

Media statement by Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and Vice Chairman of Wanita DAP Penang on Wednesday 10 June 2015 in Kuala Lumpur

The heinous statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri today practically threw the spanner in the works in claiming that the government has decided to keep Section 375 of the Penal Code which 'legalizes' marital rape,and has permanently shattered the dogma in this country that women and their rights are protected and upheld without fear or favour.

Kasthuri Patto
Member of Parliament for P46 Batu Kawan
Section 375 of the Penal Code defines rape as “a man is said to commit “rape” who, has sexual intercourse with a womanagainst her will, without her consent, with her consent by putting her in fear of death or hurt, with her consent by way of deception, with her consent that she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of her consent and with or without her consent when she is under 16 years of age.
The new section 375A claims that any man in a marriage who causes hurt or fear of death or hurt his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years.

It is still not regarded as rape.

This means that under the Malaysian Penal Code, that even if a wife rejects sexual demands of her husband, and the sexual act has caused her hurt, pain, distress and psychological trauma, it is still not considered marital rape. And even with the current amended section, a husband can commit the act of rape on his wife.

The government has shown that it is not sincere in protecting women who are in marriages with violent partners who force themselves on their wives. In a Parliamentary reply in August 2013, the Prime Minister's Department stated that the decision not to acknowledge marital rape was that it is against syariah laws and other religious beliefs.

Perhaps Nancy Shukri is not aware that marital rape is unIslamic, as said in the Al-Quran Surah Al Ruum, verse 21 which reads As a religion that truly respects women, the husband and wife relationship in Islam is built upon the foundations of love and mutual respect” and “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”Therefore it is grossly misleading to say that Section 375 is here to stay because of syariah laws and other religious laws.

No religion condones that a woman should suffer in pain - physical or psychological.

The burning question here is why is immunity given to husbands to force themselves on their wives and get away with it? Why has it become so hard to put laws in place to protect women against perpetrators within the walls of their home? That it is acceptable for a husband to make sexual demands of her even if she refuses it?

When marital rape is criminalised, it sends out a strong signal that any rape whether it is within a marriage or not is fundamentally wrong and unacceptable in any society.

It is comical while “rape” is a grave offence, “marital rape” which also carries the word “rape” is deemed alright.

The government must acknowledge marital rape as a crime and a form of violence against women and men.

While it is not surprising that more social democratic countries have outlawed marital rape, it is remarkable that countries that have seen the perils of war have criminalised marital rape.

Countries such as Zimbabwe, Turkey, Cambodia, Nepal, Mauritius, Ghana, Thailand, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Bosnia Herzegovina, South Korea and others have taken a step forward to criminalise marital rape.

Unfortunately Malaysia stands with other countries that do not view marital rape as something critical to be outlawed.

It is distressing that Section 375 and 375A may eventually end up protecting men who are cruel and violent with their wives, instead of protecting women who are the victims

I reinforce my question to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department; who are you protecting here? Are you protecting women or protecting men's 'privileges' over their woman? Are you signing a decree that all husbands are hereby given immunity to commit rape upon their wives, and it will not be a crime unless she fulfils section 375A?

This would have been a golden opportunity for the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri to prove her combativeness to make amendments to the Penal Code to criminalise marital rape and by doing so, amendments to the expansion of the definition of rape with regards to the many rape cases, including the finger-rape case, will cement confidence in the hearts and minds of the civil society and the rakyat.

If the government decides not to pursue criminalising marital rape, then their decision to keep Section 375 and 375A of the Penal code shows it is regressive, patriarchal and a threat to women from all walks of life.

Kasthuri Patto
Member of Parliament for P46 Batu Kawan

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