WAO upset Putrajaya won’t criminalise marital rape

PETALING JAYA: A women’s group today expressed its disappointment with a deputy minister’s statement that the government had no plans to criminalise marital rape and urged Putrajaya to reconsider its decision.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) said Malaysia’s existing laws not only permitted husbands to rape their wives but empowers abusive husbands.

It said this was “out of step with global norms”.

WAO also noted that a 2014 study by Universiti Sains Malaysia had suggested that 100,000 women in Malaysia had been raped by their partners during their lifetime.

“If we do not change our laws, we will continue to enable abuse,” WAO said in a statement.

It said Malaysia’s Penal Code, which is inherited from the British, defines rape in Section 375, but then “explicitly exempts husbands (who rape their wives) from the offence”.

“Parliament must repeal the exception to Section 375 of the Penal Code. Marriage must not be a licence to rape.”

Many countries, WAO said, have repealed such laws, including the United Kingdom. Singapore will soon follow suit.

Earlier today, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the Dewan Rakyat that the government had no plans to criminalise “marital rape” at the moment as it would be almost impossible to prove such cases in court.

Hanipa also said the chances of the suspect being acquitted of spousal rape were much higher.

But the Sepang MP added that there were existing legal provisions to punish those who hurt their spouses.

He mentioned Section 375A of the Penal Code which provides that any man who causes hurt or fear of death to his wife or any other person in order to have sexual intercourse with his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years.