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Archive for October, 2009

Marital rape and sex addiction

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Earlier this week, the New Paper reported on yet another woman’s account of marital rape:

“My feelings for him died and I didn’t want to have sex with him any more. But he never took no for an answer,” she said.

When she left the marital home, he called her repeatedly to cajole her to return home.

“He said he wanted me to come home to look after the children.

I told him that I would come home only if we had no more relations as husband and wife. He said okay,” she said.

But once she was home, he allegedly went back on his word and forced himself on her again and again. [...]

Lili said she told her husband repeatedly that she wanted a divorce.

But he never agreed to it and continued to force himself on her, she alleged. [...]

“I don’t want to go back to that way of life again, with him forcing himself on me whenever he felt like it. I’m desperate and depressed.”

The article, headlined “Evil hubby or sex addict?”, contains speculation as to whether the husband in question has an addiction to sex.

Committing rape is not in itself necssarily a sign of sex addiction, and someone need not be a sex addict in order to commit rape. The only thing required to become a rapist is the choice to commit rape: to disrespect the wishes of someone else regarding very sensitive areas of their body, and to force yourself upon them without their consent.

In our view, all diagnosed sex addicts – those who commit sexual violence, as well as those who do not – may require medical and other assistance to deal with their condition. At the same time, all rapists – those who are sex addicts, as well as those who are not – should be held accountable for the acts of violence they perpetrate by sexually penetrating unwilling victims.

It is unhelpful to divide those who commit rape into two supposedly exclusive groups of the “evil” and “sex addicts”. Some may be sex addicts, and those need help. But all commit an act of violence, and that act demands strong societal condemnation.

As we have argued before, the criminal law is not the only appropriate response to cases of marital rape, but it needs to be there as one step among many.

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Thanks to Temasek Review

Monday, October 26th, 2009

No To Rape would like to thank Temasek Review for kindly publishing a call for support for our petition. Please keep those signatures coming!

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whose Right is it anyway?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

No To Rape is pleased to announce that our third film ad will be launched on 31 October, at ‘whose Right is it anyway?’, a human rights workshop for youth.

The United Nations Youth Association of Singapore (UNYAS) and our kind organisational endorsers MARUAH (Singapore working group for a human rights mechanism) will be holding a full-day workshop for those who are young and interested in finding out what human rights are about.

Date: 31 October
Time: 09 00 h
Venue: Singapore Management University School of Business Seminar room 2.5

For more details and to register, visit their website.

No To Rape is very grateful to MARUAH and UNYAS for allowing us to screen our film ad at their event. Those of you who can’t make it will be able to catch it here on the No To Rape blog, of course: watch this space for updates.

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Her World feature on marital rape

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Her World: November 2009.

November’s issue of Her World is now available at newsstands, and it includes an in-depth interview with a woman who was raped by her husband multiple times. We’re very glad that Her World has chosen to highlight this important issue. Do buy a copy!

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Women with disabilities and minor wives

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

MCYS has put out a press release which includes details of the National Family Violence Symposium held on Wednesday. One presentation makes particular reference to the position of people with disabilities in the United States (emphases ours):

Studies have long established that people with developmental or other disabilities are disproportionately victimized in the United States. One study found that among adults with developmental disabilities, as many as 83% of females and 32% of males are the victims of sexual assault. Perhaps most astonishingly, 97%-99% of abusers are known and trusted by these victims. Victimization rates for persons with disabilities is highest for sexual assault (more than 10 times as high) and robbery (more than 12 times as high).

There are a number of factors related to the susceptibility to abuse for individuals with disabilities. In addition, there are many existing significant barriers, both real and perceived, that affect vulnerable adults and their interaction with the criminal justice system. These barriers include societal perception of disability, use of appropriate language and current realities for adults and children with disabilities.

Under the Penal Code at the moment, marital rape is excluded from the definition of rape unless the victim had taken certain legal steps, including for example applying for a personal protection order, prior to the assault.

One of the arguments set out in our Petition is that the requirement of making applications for orders, injunctions etc. may be especially difficult to fulfil for minor wives and/or women with disabilities with abusive husbands who are adult and/or able-bodied. Such girls and women are likely to be in a position of dependence – economic, or physical, or both – which makes it much harder for them to cross the extra hurdles put in place before they can seek the protection of the criminal law.

We hope that MCYS and the government will pay close attention to the implications of the presentation for the Penal Code. The situation in the United States may not be directly comparable to the situation in Singapore. But if women with disabilities are especially likely to suffer sexual violence within the home, it becomes even more important that marital immunity for rape be completely abolished.

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Religion and marital rape

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Blogger Terence Lee, who calls himself a “skeptical Christian”, has written about about the extent of support for No To Rape from the Christian community. We’re very grateful to Terence for highlighting our campaign, and would like to address the issue he has raised, by speaking of our efforts to develop a relationship with all religious communities in Singapore.

No To Rape includes individuals who subscribe to a variety of religious beliefs, as well as some who have no religion at all. Our belief is that people from all traditions and faiths have a shared interest in addressing sexual violence within marriage. Everyone in multi-cultural and multi-religious Singapore has a shared interest in fair, humane laws that ensure the protection of all people against assault. No To Rape aims to further that shared interest.

We know that for many people, marital relationships are a deeply spiritual matter intimately tied to the ethical teachings and guidance of their religious communities. For this reason, we have sought to engage religious communities, and have been hard at work contacting a variety of religious authorities to seek their contributions and opinions on the subject.

To date, many have responded positively: see [1], [2], [3], [4] (it is not mentioned in that entry, but Mr Blakely is a marriage counsellor with Wesley Methodist Church) and [5] for some of the messages we have received. There are others, in confidential correspondence, that we cannot currently disclose. It’s also worth noting the guidance of the Christian churches in the Bahamas, where the government is working on legislative changes similar to those we propose.

No To Rape is very conscious of the need to improve this dialogue, which is after all an ongoing process. Our ability to do so, however, is only as good as the connections we manage to form – which in turn is reliant on the goodwill of those who believe in what we stand for. We seek help from you, the public, to more effectively engage the varied traditions which go into the ethical and social space in which Singaporeans live.
If you support the abolition of marital immunity for rape and are able to help us better engage and communicate with leading members in your faith community, please let us know.

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Thanks to The Online Citizen

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

No To Rape would like to thank The Online Citizen (TOC) for its recent coverage of the campaign. It raises some interesting questions about the response to No To Rape, including a comparison to the 2007 petition to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code.

Originally scheduled to end in September, the petition drive has been extended to 30 November.

One reason for this slow response is because marital rape has been given less publicity in the press, as opposed to homosexuality, said professor Chua Beng Huat, a sociology professor in the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He added: “Those who were raped by their spouses are reluctant to go to court for violence or abuse.”

Prof Chua also said that victims of marital rape are also less likely to take on self-identity as marital rape victims, unlike homosexuals who label themselves as LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people).

According to him, gay politics is driven by gays themselves and not by somebody on their behalf, and they constitute a significant number of individuals signing the petition against 337A, while marital rape petition is done on the behalf of the victims who are likely to be a small number.

As the article mentions, we are very much heartened by the positive responses we’ve had to date – it means a great deal to us because we are such a small team, working with so few resources. It’s worth noting, though, that homosexuality has a much greater profile in pop culture and the media in recent years than does marital rape. Movies like Brokeback Mountain and Milk have achieved immense commercial success, but there is no real comparable visibility for marital rape. Moreover, rape victims are more unlikely to identify themselves to anyone at all, even to one another, or gather for social and other purposes on the basis of their experiences of victimisation, as it is often hard to imagine any gain from doing so. This is especially the case in relation to marital rape, where the law does not even recognise the assault as rape to begin with.

In our opinion, these are a few reasons why the petitions are not in quite the same position in terms of pre-existing visibility and organiser and supporter demographics.

Our hope is very much that this campaign will help to open up a public conversation about this issue, and to the extent this is already happening, your responses to us have been far from “lukewarm”. For this, we thank you, the public – and hope you will continue to push the discussion further in every possible arena.

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Campaign Action: Set Up a Sign-Up Point

Tuesday, October 20th, 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], [3], [4], [5], [6] and [7].)

This fortnight’s Campaign Action is:

Set Up a Sign-Up Point. Do you ever hang out somewhere with wireless access? Do you use a laptop at your school or for work? Can you arrange for Internet access at your place of worship?

Put up a desk with a sign, set your browser to the Petition page, and start collecting signatures!

You can use the leaflets in the Promote section and the FAQ to help you respond to concerns.

We often have queries about the IC number field. This is collected to improve the credibility of the petition by confirming that signatures come from unique individuals. You can reassure people that access to this information is highly restricted and we don’t sell or use it in any other way.

Imagine if you can get just five people to sign the petition, and they all tell five friends, who tell five more… we’ll be on our way to the target of 10,000 signatures in no time.

We’re into the final stretch now. Thank you for standing with us so far – we need your help for some final pushes to get us over the line.

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Message from Trinity Theological College

Friday, October 16th, 2009

No To Rape is grateful for the kind words of encouragement we have received from Trinity Theological College, which we reproduce here:

Thank you for keeping us posted on the “No to Rape” campaign. We applaud your efforts at raising public attention to marital rape in our nation, and wish you well in your campaign. Rape is utterly reprehensible whether in marriage or outside of it, and we support, in principle, any attempt that might safeguard the welfare of the vulnerable and place legal restraint on those who perpetrate sexual violence.

The deep respect that Christianity has for the God-given dignity of every single human person, the high esteem that the Church accords the institution of marriage, and the Bible’s condemnation of injustice and oppressive violence are part and parcel of the Christian moral response to issues of sexual violence.

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Making ourselves heard

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Thanks to your help in spreading the word, we now have more than 2,800 signatures on the Petition. This is a great show of support for the abolition of marital immunity for rape, but we can do more. Please continue to let others know about the petition – tell your family members over dinner, post it to your Facebook profile or your blog, or make use of our handy leaflets to let people know about No To Rape.

As always, many of you have left messages that are well worth highlighting. Rajashree Rajan writes:

Rape is well-documented and understood to be about power rather than sex itself or pleasure. If we as a society frown upon sexual harassment at work or in a social setting, why should we allow a man to exert such a violent & invasive show of power of a women merely because they share a marriage certificate?

Lim Hsuan’ya adds:

I am very disappointed and utterly upset when I learn about this. How can we call ourself a modern society when such medival law exist.
As a woman myself, I do not feel respected by my country.

And Jeanne Sze Hwee Chai contrasts the message sent by marital immunity for rape against the ideals that society cherishes for marriage:

A union is suppose to be a safe place for two people to grow together. No violence, physical, emotional or sexual should be tolerated. Rape is rape, even if it’s perpetrated by a spouse.

Thank you for your support.

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