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A final weekend

November 27th, 2009

It is the final weekend for the No To Rape petition drive. Please take some time to remind friends and family to sign before the deadline on midnight 30 November. We know there are many more people who oppose sexual violence within marriage, and support giving everyone the full protection of the law. But we need your names on the petition to make sure the government knows it too.

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Help for rape victims

November 27th, 2009

The bloggers at Barnyard Chorus have shown No To Rape a lot of support, for which we are very grateful.

They have also put together some resources highlighting what sort of help you can and should seek if you have experienced sexual violence, whether from a spouse or anyone else. We recommend reading this even if you haven’t been assaulted, simply because (as blogger Badly Drawn Pig points out), it is not possible to predict sexual violence in advance:

In this Porkchop’s continued badly drawn efforts to bring you information you might need in case of emergency, I’m going to provide some porcine-weight, choi-ke-lei resources on seeking help in the event of rape or sexual assault, for all women and girls in Singapore.

Rape and sexual assault victims, I think, mostly don’t think or know that they’re going to be victimised like that. So it can happen to anyone.


Information about medical services and helplines follows. Do have a look.

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“Violence across all classes”

November 25th, 2009

Only the introduction is available online, but in the Straits Times today there is an article on domestic violence in Singapore. It emphasises that domestic violence affects people across all levels of education and income. According to the article, spousal abuse in which men hurt their wives in the privacy of their homes remains the most common form of family violence in Singapore.

The article also highlights the experiences of Ms Mary Tan, who for more than 30 years endured abuse at the hands of her husband, including frequent beatings and marital rape – once preceded by him forcing her to drink his urine.

Do get a copy of the Straits Times and read the full article if you have the chance.

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Wives under the age of 16

November 23rd, 2009

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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Channel News Asia mention of No To Rape

November 23rd, 2009

Many thanks to Channel News Asia for their mention of No To Rape in their report on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Other events covered include H.O.M.E.’s Singapore Court of Women and AWARE’s White Ribbon Campaign.

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One more week to sign the petition

November 23rd, 2009


- Recent message left on our Petition

This week, on 25 November, people around the world will mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

No To Rape is also entering its final week, with over 3,100 signatures on our petition to date. This is a great show of support for ending sexual violence against women in Singapore.

But as the deadline of 30 November draws near, it is more important than ever to get the word out. This week is the final window of opportunity for you and your friends and family to sign the petition.

Word of mouth, email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs – every message, and every signature, will help.

Thank you taking action to combat violence against women.

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Inadequacies in protection

November 17th, 2009

Dr Theresa Devasahayam of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies has written a letter to the Straits Times about family violence.

But the amended charter has its shortfalls. While it protects spouse, former spouse, child, stepchild, adopted child, parents, parents-in-law and any other relative or incapacitated individual who is regarded by the court as a member of the family, couples who live together are excluded.

If the Family Violence Bill was in place, courts would have protected even de facto or common law ‘marriages’ and not ignore them altogether.

The Women’s Charter has another defect. Only the victim can apply for a protection order. In reality, the victim often believes she cannot help herself and, as a result, fails to take any action to end the abusive relationship.

An advantage of the Family Violence Bill would have been that anyone who had reason to believe that family violence (including spousal violence) was being committed could apply for a protection order for the victim.

The Women’s Charter is flawed in another way. The amended charter makes it mandatory not only for the abuser but also the victim to undergo counselling. In contrast, the Family Violence Bill would have reserved mandatory counselling for the abuser only.

Clearly, family violence should be fought on many fronts, as is currently done. But legal reform is also critical to eradicate this social problem. The legal reforms in place to fight family violence are a step forward, but more can be done to ensure gender egalitarianism.

It is interesting to note that for many forms of family violence, as Dr Devasahayam points out, unmarried partners do not enjoy the same protections as married partners or formerly married partners. In the case of rape, conversely, women raped by their unmarried partners benefit from protection which is not extended to women raped by their husbands.

These inconsistencies reflect an incomplete picture of the reality of experiences of violence and suggest that legal public policy approaches need better rationalisation. All kinds of violence should be considered equally severe. At the same time, there are specific issues raised when dealing with forms of violence faced by people tied by shared daily lives and households – for example, an overarching dynamic of domination and control would not exist in a street fight between strangers, but would exist in a couple who lived together, whether or not they were married to each other. More social support might be needed in the second case, for the reasons that Dr Devasahayam puts forward. The recognition of this reality, as reflected in the Women’s Charter, strengthens the case for the abolition of marital immunity for rape.

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Singapore Court of Women

November 17th, 2009

You may recall that No To Rape’s petition drive is ending on 30 November to coincide with activities around the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women. One of those events, Singapore Court of Women, is taking place this Sunday 22 November, at 10am, and is organised by H.O.M.E., Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics.

To mark International Day of the Elimination of Violence, come attend and understand that the Singapore Court of Women is not a judicial court but a people’s court where victims of trafficking and labour exploitation testify before and apppointed jury. Such a court allows space for women who have suffered in silence. The court would be a place for this silence to be broken and the wounds of hurts be healed through such a powerful process.

Although this is not directly related to marital immunity for rape, it should be of great interest to anyone who cares about ending violence against women. Admission is by invitation only but you can contact H.O.M.E. by email to request an invite. It promises to be very interesting, so please do consider attending.

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No To Rape meets Valerie Jarrett

November 16th, 2009

No To Rape is excited to announce that we were represented at “Women in the World: Progress, Challenges & Opportunities”, a session hosted by Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama of the United States and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. We are very grateful for our inclusion in this session and the recognition that it represents of the importance of the issues raised by our campaign.

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Her World interview available online

November 12th, 2009

Someone has kindly emailed us to let us know that the Her World feature on marital rape is now available online. Here is an excerpt:

Our marriage was on the rocks because I had just discovered that he had been cheating on me with different women for years. And his ongoing infidelity was slowly ripping us apart with frequent quarrels and scuffles.

One night, he started touching my body, as he always did when he wanted sex.

But sex was the last thing on earth I wanted at the time – I wasn’t even sure exactly how many women he had been with. So I pushed him away. He tried again. And I pushed him away again.

That was when he became frustrated. He climbed on top of me and pressed me down roughly. I struggled but he was stronger than me. He kissed me all over and started to force himself on me.

I was helpless.

When he was done, he simply rolled over to his side of the bed and went to sleep, leaving me feeling traumatised.

Do read the whole thing.

We also recommend getting a hard copy as the feature contains additional information, for example about international approaches to marital rape. It’s appropriate to reward Her World for their coverage of this important issues by buying their magazine.

p.s. Please consider leaving some supportive comments at the site, to encourage the brave woman who shared her story!

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