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Posts Tagged ‘Actions’

No To Rape at SlutTalk (3 December)

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Many of you are probably aware of SlutWalk Singapore, the local chapter of the international movement against victim-blaming in rape cases and the common practice of “slut-shaming”, or judging and shaming people because of their sexuality or perceptions about their sexuality. To find out more about the ethos and aims of SlutWalk, which is frequently misunderstood, do read their brief FAQ.

In addition to the main SlutWalk taking place on 4 December, SlutWalk is hosting a range of related events to raise awareness about sexual violence. Wong Pei Chi of No To Rape will participate in SlutTalk, a series of workshops, talks and discussions taking place all afternoon and evening at the Substation on 3 December. Together with Dr. Ingrid Hoofd and Alex Serrenti, she will be part of a roundtable discussion about victim-blaming and advocacy around sexual violence, titled “Challenging Complicities” and organised by Singapore Queer-Straight Alliance. It begins at 6pm.

There are many other events going on which may be of interest: see the full listing here.

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Submissions to MCYS on Women’s Charter

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

The Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sport is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Women’s Charter. Below is the submission made by No To Rape today.

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1. Background

1.1 No To Rape is a volunteer-led campaign calling for the total abolition of marital immunity for rape in Singapore. No To Rape seeks the complete repeal of Section 375(4) and Section 376A(5) of the Penal Code, so that all instances of non-consensual penetration of a woman’s vagina by a man’s penis constitute the offence of rape.

1.2 About 50 individuals from a range of racial and religious backgrounds have worked on No To Rape. The core team, responsible for management and funding, are Koh Wei Jie, Jolene Tan, Mark Wong and Wong Pei Chi. Opinions in this submission are those of the core team alone. Further information can be found at http://www.NoToRape.com/ and the core team can be contacted at notorape@gmail.com.

1.3 In 2009, No To Rape submitted to the Prime Minister a petition carrying more than 3,600 signatures by Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents in support of this legislative amendment. Notable signatories include:

1.3.1 Academics: Dr Kenneth Paul Tan, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Professor Chua Beng Huat, NUS Sociology Department; Professor Kumaralingam Amirthalingam, NUS Law Faculty.

1.3.2 Marriage counselors and social workers: David Blakely, President of the Singapore Association for Counselling; Benny Bong, President of the Society Against Family Violence.

1.3.3 Former NMPs: Kanwaljit Soin; Braema Mathi; Siew Kum Hong.

1.4 This petition was endorsed by the Association of Women for Action and Research and by MARUAH, the Singapore working group for an ASEAN human rights mechanism. A statement of support was also received from Trinity Theological College.

2. Submission

2.1 No To Rape welcomes the move by the Ministry to review the Women’s Charter and update the statutory and other legal provisions governing marital and other familial relations.

2.2 The Women’s Charter plays an important role in ensuring that situations of familial conflict are regulated to safeguard the security and well-being of all members of those families in Singapore that fall within its remit. (We note the exception of marriages between Muslims from the scope of the Charter.) In particular, it reflects an understanding of the position of physical vulnerability and economic dependence in which individuals may find themselves in relation to other family members, and of the corresponding need for robust state protection and legal recourse against familial abuse.

2.3 It is submitted that Section 375(4) and Section 376A(5) of the Penal Code should be repealed on the grounds that they undermine this important purpose, by creating immunity against criminal prosecution in the case of sexual violence perpetrated by men against their wives under specific conditions. These statutory provisions exempt non-consensual penetration by a man, with his penis, of a woman’s vagina, provided that the man and the woman are married to each other, unless certain limited conditions have been met (e.g. there has been an application for divorce, separation or a PPO, or a written separation agreement has been signed).

2.4 These provisions are inconsistent with the spirit of the Women’s Charter, which reflects the understanding that there exist difficult and unfortunate circumstances where, despite the existence of familial relations and the formal ties of marriage, a spouse may require the law to protect him or her from the abusive actions of his or her spouse. Neither these abusive actions nor their impact upon their victims are dependent on whether any application for divorce, separation or a PPO has yet been filed. Section 375(4) and 376A(5) deprive the police, the Ministry, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the courts of Singapore of an important option when these agencies consider their response to such abuse.

2.5 In particular, as a result of Section 376A(5), marital immunity for rape applies even in the case of adult men who non-consensually penetrate their wives, where those wives are under the age of 16. In those cases, it is extremely likely that the wife lives under conditions of physical, economic and social vulnerability vis-à-vis her husband, and the expectation that she should take steps to apply for a divorce, separation or PPO before she qualifies for legal protection from violence is particularly burdensome and unrealistic.

2.6 International studies (such as those presented at the Ministry’s Family Violence Symposium of 2009) also indicate the prevalence of family abuse, including sexual abuse, against people with disabilities. The Ministry is urged to consider the particular impact of the requirements of Section 375(4) and 376A(5) (in terms of applying for divorce, separation or a PPO) on women with disabilities who experience sexual violence from their husbands.

2.7 Public opinion in Singapore is consistent with our recommendation. A 1993 report “Social Definitions of Family Violence in Singapore” by Choi, A. and Edleson, J L, surveyed the attitudes of 510 Singapore residents and found the following:

2.7.1 95% disapproved or strongly disapproved of the use of force by a husband if his wife refused to have sex.

2.7.2 74% considered having sex with one’s wife against her will to be assault. 93% considered assaulting one’s wife to be a crime.

2.7.3 69% considered having sex with one’s wife against her will to involve the ‘major’ use of force. An overwhelming majority — 83.8% — favoured police intervention (ranging from warning to charging to arresting the husband) in even a first-time ‘major’ assault.

2.7.4 Only 11.7% considered that judges should treat wife assaults less seriously than other personal assaults. 53.4% thought they should be treated equally seriously, and 34.6% thought wife assaults should be treated more seriously.

2.8 Where it is not possible to prove non-consensual penetration to the criminal standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ in a court of law, the exercise of prosecutorial discretion and/or judicial scrutiny is the appropriate mechanism for preventing any miscarriage of justice. By contrast, the existing statutory immunity is an unnecessary barrier to appropriate prosecutions and convictions even where the evidence is sufficient to meet that standard.

2.9 In addition, it is submitted that the proposed introduction of Section 12A presents a timely opportunity for further preventative action against sexual violence between spouses. The Ministry is urged to ensure that all marriage preparation courses completed in satisfaction of this new requirement equip the prospective couple with a thorough understanding of the importance of affirmative consent in any sexual activity within their marriage. Specifically, couples should be encouraged to recognise that:

2.9.1 Sexual activity should only take place when it is mutually and freely consented to by both spouses and in the absence of any coercion, whether this coercion takes physical, emotional, economic or other forms.

2.9.2 If one party is in doubt at any time as to the wishes or consent of their spouse regarding sexual activity, they should actively seek clarification.

2.9.3 Proceeding with sexual activity when one spouse has not given clear consent amounts to violence, which is punishable under the Penal Code.

2.9.4 A party who has been subjected to sexual violence from his or her spouse can seek help through applying for a PPO or making a police complaint. This is a valid self-protective measure to take, and should not be regarded as a betrayal, shame or failure.

2.10 It is noted that Section 12A is expected to apply, in particular, to marriages where at least one party is a minor (Consultation Paper). The recommendation in 2.9 above is particularly germane in view of the particular vulnerabilities of minor spouses discussed at 2.5 above.

3. Conclusion

3.1 It is submitted that the Women’s Charter (Amendment) Bill represents a timely opportunity to fully repeal Section 375(4) and Section 376A(5) of the Penal Code, so that all instances of non-consensual penetration constitute the offence of rape, in keeping with the humane and pragmatic purposes of the Women’s Charter.

3.2 Compulsory marriage preparation courses should emphasise the importance of affirmative consent in all sexual activity. This will promote better marital relations, help to prevent future sexual violence within marriages, and also better equip victims to seek timely assistance should such violence nevertheless occur.

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Please consider making a submission to MCYS in support of our proposals. You can do so through the REACH website until 24 October.

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A final weekend

Friday, 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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Campaign Action: Go to your MP’s Meet the People Session

Wednesday, November 4th, 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], [7] and [8].)

You object to marital immunity for rape. You believe women deserve protection from violence, no matter who commits it.

We know this. But for the law to change, we need your MP to know it too.

That’s why our Campaign Action from now to the petition deadline on 30 November is:

Go to your MP’s Meet the People Session. Tell your MP that you believe rape is always violence, and that married women need the full protection of the law.

Tell your MP that more than 3,000 people have signed the No To Rape online petition, and that the number is growing.

Tell them that you have heard and read the stories of women who have experienced marital rape – on Channel News Asia and in Her World – and that the current law is inadequate to protect them.

You can use the leaflet on our Promote page to help you make your points.

If you would like to coordinate your meeting with your MP with another No To Rape supporter, email us with your constituency and preferred dates (if any) in advance. We will put people in touch with one another.

In addition, please do email us afterward and let us know how your meeting went.

Thank you for taking action to create change.

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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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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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Campaign Action: Write to MinLaw

Thursday, October 8th, 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] and [6].)

This fortnight’s Campaign Action is: Write to the Ministry of Law (MinLaw).

The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is responsible for reviewing legal policy to ensure Singapore’s legal system is modern and relevant, that justice is accessible, and that the rule of law is upheld. Send an email or letter to Minister for Law Mr K Shanmugan (who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs) and tell him that you think marital immunity for rape should be completely abolished.

Email: k_shanmugan@mlaw.gov.sg

Post: Ministry of Law, 100 High Street, #08-02 The Treasury, Singapore 179434

Here are some points you can make – you can write in your own words, or copy and paste:

- Marital immunity for rape is based on archaic ideas and serves to deny women the protection of the law against violence.

- The current law is arbitrary and inconsistent. The offence of “sexual penetration” under Section 376 criminalises non-consensual anal and oral penetration within marriage, as well as penetration of the vagina with the hand, without any immunity. This shows that the law and its officers are able and willing to adjudicate on the issue of non-consent to sexual activity within marriage. Why should the position be different for penile-vaginal acts?

- There is no evidence that abolition of marital immunity for rape in other jurisdictions has led to an “opening of the floodgates” for false allegations. The position we seek is the status quo in Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and elsewhere. None of these countries is considering reinstating marital immunity because of abuses by wives.

Please let us know of any responses you receive. Thank you again for taking a stand against violence against women.

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Campaign Action: Write to MHA

Wednesday, September 23rd, 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] and [5].) Click here for the current No To Rape Campaign Action

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Campaign Action: Write to MCYS

Wednesday, September 9th, 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] and [4].)

The current No To Rape Campaign Action is:

Write to MCYS. Last November, Minister for State for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon and Coordinating Director/Corporate Management for MCYS Mrs Tan Hwee Seh signed up to a UNIFEM campaign as representatives of the Singapore government.

This signature commits the government to making it a top priority to end violence against women.

Send an email or a letter to Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon citing this commitment and stating your support for the total abolition of marital immunity for rape.

Email: foo_yee_shoon@mcys.gov.sg

Post: Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, 512 Thomson Road, MCYS Building, Singapore 298136

The letter will have more effect if you use your own words, but here are some things you could say:

- Marital rape, like all rape, is a form of violence. (If this is supported by your religious beliefs, please explain that fact.)

- The government should fulfil the commitment it took on in signing up to the UNIFEM campaign, by ensuring its laws and policies adequately address violence against women.

- Marital immunity for rape denies women the protection of the law in cases of violence to their person. It should be completely abolished.

More ideas can be found in the Model Letter in the Promote section.

Thank you for speaking up on behalf of women in Singapore. Every action you take for the campaign brings us closer to change.

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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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