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Wives under the age of 16

A letter by Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong (who previously kindly spoke at the No To Rape seminar) has been published in the Straits Times Forum. It makes reference to the situation of wives under the age of 16:

The present law is inconsistent in that consensual sex with a girl under the age of 16 is a serious offence under the Penal Code, punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a fine, but it is not a criminal offence for a man to have sex with his wife who is at least 13 years old.

If we are concerned about the emotional and physical well-being of young girls engaging in sex, it cannot be right to allow men to have sex with their wives between the ages of 13 and 16, just because they are married to each other. The marriage will most likely have taken place with a foreigner overseas, where marriages with young brides are allowed.

Currently, Section 376A makes it an offence to have sex with any person under the age of 16, whether or not the minor expresses consent. Associate Professor Chan’s letter appears to question the retention of two separate exempions:

(1) Section 376A(4), which grants immunity from this offence when a girl under the age of 16 says “yes” to sex with her husband.

(2) Section 376A(5), which grants immunity from this offence, even in situations where a 13-, 14- or 15-year-old girl has said “no” to her husband.

The current No To Rape petition calls for the complete removal of Section 376A(5). (This is in no way an endorsement of Section 376A(4), which may also require further review.) If you believe that a man should not be able to force an unwilling 13-, 14- or 15-year old wife to have sex, please sign it today, and help to spread the word.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 8:35 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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