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Archive for August, 2009

Petition extension to 30 November

Monday, August 31st, 2009

The No To Rape petition was originally to close in October. However, we are very pleased to say that we have decided to extend it to midnight 30 November, so that the petition will remain open during the period around 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. So we’ll be working hard for the next three months on getting the word out – and hope you can help us too!

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Seminar video highlights, part 2

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Although full videos of our public seminar held on 7 August are available, we have extracted several shorter segments that highlight major points of interest.

Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong of the NUS Law Faculty responds to a question on the difficulties of proving non-consent in the marital rape scenario:

Former NMP Siew Kum Hong responds to an audience member expressing concerns about the preservation of marriages:

Similarly, Benny Bong, President of the Society Against Family Violence, opines on the question of whether removing marital immunity for rape will weaken family bonds:

Watch this space for more!

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Campaign Action: Tell a New Person Each Day

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

(Campaign Actions are suggestions we make every fortnight for steps you can take – in addition to spreading the No To Rape message online – to help the effort for change. Previous Campaign Actions: [1], [2] and [3].)

The current No To Rape Campaign Action is:

Tell a New Person Each Day. It’s that simple. Every day for the next two weeks, mention the No To Rape campaign and website to one person you haven’t spoken about it to before.

You can use the leaflets provided in the Promote section to help you respond to any questions or to get the conversation going.

We are working hard to spread the word to as many people as we can, but we can’t do this without you. Please act to create a society which takes sexual violence seriously, no matter what its form may be.

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Rolling onward

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Today the campaign enters an important week. Wednesday, 26 August, is the 10th anniversary of the hearing of Public Prosecutor v N, the landmark case where a man gagged, tied up and forced sex upon his wife but could not be charged for rape – to the surprise, according to then-prosecutor Mr Wang, even of then-Chief Justice Yong Pung How. Ten years later, despite the 2007 Penal Code Review, the result in the case would be the same. Even in cases of clearcut evidence of non-consent, the law denies that someone who forcibly penetrates his wife is a rapist.

Thank you to the more than 2,300 of you who have signed our petition to express your determination that this must change. We are pleased and grateful to note that recent notable signatories include Dr Kenneth Paul Tan of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Professor Chua Beng Huat of the NUS Sociology Department and Professor Kumaralingam Amirthalingam of the NUS Law Faculty. Let’s keep the signatures coming!

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Seminar video highlights, Part 1

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Videos from our public seminar have been available for some time, but we’ve gone through them to extract some brief portions that may be of particular interest.

Benny Bong, President of the Society of Family Violence, talks about some of the troubling aspects of marital rape cases, including how a lack of societal condemnation is like a second victimisation:

Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong of the NUS Law Faculty responds to a question about whether “vengeful wives” have been known to make abusive allegations of marital rape in those countries which make no distinction between marital rape and stranger rape:

A member of the audience comments on cases where women know their husbands are cheating on them, but nevertheless believe they are obliged to have sex despite the possible ramifications for their own health (e.g. sexually transmitted infections):

More short clips to come – watch this space!

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No To Rape in the weekend papers

Monday, August 17th, 2009

As we mentioned a short while ago, No To Rape has been in the papers again. Those interested can follow up on the coverage here:

The Straits Times, 15 Aug 09: “‘Rape within marriage is still assault’”

The Straits Times, 16 Aug 09: Forum letter by Osman Sidek, “Marital rape: Law should protect abused wives”

Thank you to Osman Sidek for supporting the abolition of marital immunity for rape. We would like to highlight one particular point he makes. He writes that marriage entails mutual sexual obligations, before asking what should happen if those obligations are not fulfilled:

The question is whether an aggrieved party should be allowed all means to seek redress – including the use of force – or should the means of redress itself be defined by law so as to be commensurate with the loss of sexual gratification.

By comparison, even in the case of murder, an aggrieved family will not enjoy legal immunity should the members resort to physical violence as a means of recourse.

In fact, in no other situation will a victim be allowed to take justice into his own hands.

So why does sexual gratification occupy such a lofty space in our law that physical coercion becomes fair recourse when it is deprived?

Marital counselling, sexual therapy or even termination of marriage are fair and civilised means of recourse to conjugal deprivation.

This is consistent with what we have said before. People may disagree about the nature and extent of any sexual obligation implied by marriage. But whatever one’s views on this point, the physical invasion of a human being against their wishes is unacceptable. Someone frustrated about the state of sexual relations in their marriage can and should seek peaceful options to resolve the problem. If they choose instead to use force, the law should hold them accountable for this choice.

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A few words

Monday, August 17th, 2009

A few words can say so much. Thank you to Yap Pheng Hui, who leaves the following message to explain his signature on the petition:

我是两个女孩的父亲。这个理由就足够了。

Translated: “I am the father of two girls. That is reason enough.”

As we’ve said before, the people united by No To Rape are diverse: female and male, married and unmarried, young and old, and representing a range of racial and religious backgrounds.

Every married woman is someone’s daughter, or mother, or sister, or friend. This law concerns us all.

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More on PP v N

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

You may have seen that No To Rape has been featured in the Straits Times again. Thank you once again to all the volunteers and supporters who have helped to make this campaign newsworthy. Your efforts mean that the No To Rape message can reach a wider group of people.

Interestingly, blogger Mr Wang has picked up the story (we are grateful for the link!), and it emerges that he was the prosecutor in the landmark marital rape case of PP v N (we posted the facts previously but the link is malfunctioning slightly – click on the ‘Legal’ tag on the right and you can read them). Mr Wang describes his experience in the High Court:

The prosecution appealed for a higher sentence. I took the case to the High Court. There I presented to the Chief Justice various arguments for a heavier sentence.

I still remember the first question that Yong Pung How had asked in court. He asked, “Why wasn’t this man charged for rape?”

Yong didn’t know that the prosecution couldn’t do that. He looked slightly stunned, when I pointed him to the relevant immunity provision in the Penal Code. At first sight, Yong’s ignorance of that point was very surprising (you would expect the Chief Justice to know better). However, on further reflection, Yong’s ignorance was not that surprising.

Why? Well, as Chief Justice, Yong had heard hundreds, perhaps thousands of criminal cases. So he knew a lot about criminal law. But Yong had never heard a single case where a husband had been charged for raping his wife. And that, of course, was because the law did not even allow the prosecution to charge any husband for such an offence.

Anyway, the Chief Justice increased the sentence for N. He brought the overall sentence close to the maximum possible, for the charges of “criminal intimidation” and “voluntarily causing hurt”. If I recall correctly, it added up to a few years’ imprisonment. This was a big improvement over the original sentence, but it was still a lot lower than what it would have been, for a bona fide rape charge. Even the Chief Justice is constrained by the words in the Penal Code, you see.

It may be worth referring to the words of then-Chief Justice Yong in the case, which reflect the principles that rape is a form of sexual violence and that violence committed against one’s spouse is no less severe than violence against a stranger. Both these principles support the total abolition of marital immunity for rape. We have added emphasis to the relevant language.

Click here for more

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Standing together

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

As the number of signatures on the petition nears 2,000, we would like to highlight another notable message of support. Signatory Bay Ming Ching leaves an eloquent and succinct statement:

The wedding ring is not supposed to be the world’s tiniest handcuff, rendering the one party to suffer at the hands of their spouses in silence. Action has to be taken to ensure there are laws protecting married individuals from the abuse of their spouses.

No To Rape is also pleased to note more familiar names among the signatories, including Dr Kanlwaljit Soin, orthopaedic surgeon, former NMP and former President of AWARE; actors Pamela Oei and Timothy Nga; Dr Gwee Li Sui of NUS; former President of AWARE Tan Joo Hymn; and architect and writer Dinesh Naidu.

Thank you to each and every person who has signed the petition. Please continue to speak up and spread the word. Together, we can build an even stronger show of support.

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Query on NRIC numbers

Friday, August 14th, 2009

We’ve received the following query from a visitor to the site, which we are reproducing with their kind permisson:

Thank you for organising this campaign that seeks to protect and fight for the rights of Singapore’s women folks. Obviously I agree with the view point that rape is rape and marriage should not also legalise rape. I’ve signed the petition as well, but perhaps a little too quickly because now there is a burning question in my mind.

The petition form requires the filling in of the NRIC number, which the site says is only for validation purposes. May I know what that ‘validation’ might be, assuming that none of the organisers are from government agencies that have access to such records. Also, how do you intend to handle these private information, especially after the campaign? And how would you ensure of zero chance of abuse?

I’ve typed in my NRIC, but a friend who also signed for the petition, told me she did not do so and her entry showed up all the same, all the more reason for my worries. If it is not necessary to input the NRIC for the petition in the first place, why the inclusion of that choice?

Click here to read the rest

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