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Posts Tagged ‘International’

Marital rape and CEDAW

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Singapore is a party to the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty, and as a result the state regularly reports to the United Nations CEDAW Committee. This happened most recently in July 2011. Various NGOs including AWARE also submitted shadow reports to the Committee. AWARE’s report includes the following references to marital rape and No To Rape:

19.23 Singapore’s Fourth Periodic Review to CEDAW 2008 highlights the amendment to the Penal Code that has criminalized forced sex on a spouse under certain circumstances, e.g. in cases where a Personal Protection Order (PPO) was issued against the offending spouse. While a step in the right direction, it is submitted that this does not go far enough. In fact, the CEDAW Committee’s Concluding Comments voiced some concern for the recognition of marital rape as a crime in such ‘narrowly defined circumstances’.

19.24 AWARE, in its previous shadow report discussed this discriminatory provision that denies all married women full recourse for the criminal offence of rape merely by virtue of the fact that her husband is the perpetrator. The amendment that came into force in February 2008 clearly does not go far enough as many women might not be aware or able to get PPOs, and therefore effectively these women will have no legal recourse. It is time that protection and recourse to rape be provided for all women irrespective of marital status.

19.25 In December 2009, a petition with 3,609 signatures was submitted to the Prime Minister’s office by the ‘No To Rape’ online petition coordinator, a group of ‘concerned Singaporeans who have come together for the single purpose of promoting change on this issue.’

The United Nations Committee has considered the submissions of the government and NGOs and issued a statement, which also includes remarks on marital rape:

The Committee expresses its concern at the persistence of violence against women in the State party, in particular, domestic and sexual violence, which remains, in many cases, under-reported. While welcoming the amendments to the Penal Code in 2008 on the criminalization of rape of a spouse, the Committee is concerned that it only applies when the perpetrator and the victims are living apart and are in process of termination of their marriage, and if the victim applied for a personal protection order.

The Committee urges the State party to:

(a) Review its Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code in order to specifically criminalize domestic violence and marital rape, and ensure that the definition of rape covers any non-consensual sexual act;

(b) Provide mandatory training for judges, prosecutors and the police on the strict application of legal provisions dealing with violence against women and train police officers on procedures to deal with women victims of violence;

(c) Encourage women to report incidents of domestic and sexual violence, by de- stigmatizing victims and raising awareness about the criminal nature of such acts;

(d) Provide adequate assistance and protection to women victims of violence, by strengthening the capacity of shelters and crisis centres, and enhancing cooperation with NGOs providing shelter and rehabilitation to victims; and

(e) Collect statistical data on domestic and sexual violence disaggregated by sex, age, nationality and relationship between the victim and perpetrator.

No To Rape welcomes AWARE’s and the Committee’s call to change the law so that all women enjoy protection from sexual violence regardless of their marital status or their relationship with the perpetrator.

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Change in the Bahamas

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Not only among our neighbours (and many in Asia), but also in the distant nation of The Bahamas, marital rape is being taken seriously:

The government presented legislation to Parliament that would completely ban marital rape in The Bahamas.

Presently, marital rape is only recognized in The Bahamas if the couple is separated or is in the progress of getting a divorce.

This has similarities to the position in Singapore, where marital rape is only treated as rape in limited circumstances.

This interesting article details the reactions of a number of Christian ministers in The Bahamas. They state that the ethical teachings of their faith condemn marital rape, and acknowledge that state law must hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

Bishop Williams said marriage ordained by God involves caring, sharing and love for one’s spouse. Therefore, a man living by the Word of God is not going to willfully violate his own wife. He advises that if there are any problems (especially those sexual in nature) in the marriage, a husband who loves his wife as God says he should, will be more understanding about the matter and be able to deal with it by showing love and not violently or by force.

“If by force, then where is the love of God in his heart?”

Grand Bahama Christian Council President Bishop Sobig Kemp believes the amendment of the marital rape law does not go against the word of God because love is the fulfilment of God’s word.

“Love never forces itself on a person, that is not God’s way,” Bishop Kemp said. “Therefore it is never demonstrated with violence or abuse. This problem arises because of self or personal gratification in a relationship without any concern or interest for the other person. This is totally contrary to God’s Word.”

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Across the Causeway

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The Straits Times reports on the first use of a law, introduced in Malaysia in 2007, which is intended to address marital rape:

A MALAYSIAN man who forced his wife to have sex with him has been sentenced to the maximum five years in jail, in what appears to be the country’s first successful prosecution under a new law against stop marital rape. [...]

‘We hope this will inspire other wives who suffer in silence to come out and seek justice for themselves,’ Judge Hassan Abdul Ghani was quoted by the Times as saying.

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Afghanistan, too

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

In Afghanistan, too, marital immunity for rape is being hotly debated. In March, the President signed a law entitling men to sexual access to their wives’ bodies every four days – in effect, legalising marital rape. This was accompanied by other proposals marking Afghan women out as property of their husbands: for example, requiring them to obtain permission before leaving their homes. This was met by intense domestic protest, with hundreds of women taking to the streets of Kabul, and widespread international outcry.

This has had a welcome effect. Earlier this week, Afghan Justice Ministry officials announced they were backing down.

Like the Afghan demonstrators, we too must make our voices heard. The signatories on this petition have increased to more than 600, and now include – in addition to the notable figures we mentioned a few days ago – NMP Siew Kum Hong, TV presenter Anita Kapoor, playwright Ovidia Yu, legal academic Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong, former NTU Associate Professor Alfred Choi, and radio emcee Joe Augustin.

Our numbers are growing, but if we work together to keep spreading the message, we can do even better. So keep up the good work of circulating this URL through blogs, email and social media. Sign up for our newsletter. And please keep coming back to the blog. In the coming weeks, we will announce many more exciting actions we can all take to help create a victory for justice in Singapore.

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