WAO: Why criminalising marital rape is important


KUALA LUMPUR: The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) says not recognising marital rape as a crime trivialises the fundamental issue of consent, even in marriage.

The organisation added that as long as marital rape is not recognised as a crime, many women would remain silent after being raped by their husbands.

“A high percentage of women who have faced rape in marriage do not report it because we as a society do not see it as rape and the law does not recognise it as a crime,” said the organisation’s executive director Sumitra Visvanathan.

She acknowledged that under the current Penal Code, the act of a husband causing hurt to his wife with the purpose of soliciting sex is an offence under Section 375A.

But this was not enough, she said, adding that the Penal Code must be amended to include the crime of marital rape.

“The legal provision is insufficient as it does not clearly define the fundamental issue of consent,” she said at a press conference at the Sime Darby Convention Centre here today.

Sumitra said she was also disappointed that the issue had not been raised in the current parliament sitting.

“No efforts have been made to criminalise marital rape, and I realise there have been lawmakers who have even said that it’s difficult to put into legal terms.

“This is disappointing, because as long as the fundamental issue of consent is not put forward, then we have an issue.”

Earlier this month, DAP MP Teresa Kok, who is on the Select Committee on the Review of the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, said the term “marital rape” was difficult to place within the context of the law as it was difficult to prove.

Kok said that was why the act of a husband causing hurt to his wife with the purpose of soliciting sex was an offence under Section 375A of the Penal Code.