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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Joint letter from No To Rape and AWARE

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Last week the Straits Times published a joint letter from No To Rape and AWARE, responding to recent Forum contributions on the subject of marital rape.

The argument in support of Section 375(4) of the Penal Code, which treats marital rape as an exception to rape save in certain circumstances, is that “sexual relations are to be expected in a marriage”.

We agree, but consent should still be a pre-condition.

Where an individual regularly refuses to have sex with her spouse, the correct remedy would be for the spouse to seek a divorce, rather than to force her to have sex.

Law enforcers and lawyers regularly examine evidence of rape in other contexts.

If marital rape immunity were entirely repealed, these agencies would just have to apply the same considerations to marital rape cases, which are currently automatically excluded regardless of the strength of evidence.

Click here to read the full letter.

It is also worth noting some of the arguments raised by Benjamin Joshua Ong in support of reform:

First, by making the lack of consent to sexual intercourse merely an aggravating factor to another criminal charge, the present legislation does not highlight that the harm arises from the very fact of sexual intercourse without consent, and not only from other concomitant incidents of violence.

Second, it neglects the need for accurate labelling of offences. The word “rape” has connotations that reflect the seriousness of the offence. Surely nobody would be satisfied if the law referred to murder as, say, “very serious assault”; it would simply not do justice to the sense of moral repugnance at the crime.

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A welcome parliamentary mention

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

No To Rape strongly welcomes the remarks of Law Minister K Shanmugam and MP Vikram Nair, made in Parliament just over a week ago, regarding the possible abolition of marital immunity for rape. The Minister mentioned his meeting with No To Rape team members and described our goal as “worth looking into”.

Together with the repeal of Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act, this move would reflect a significant step towards ensuring that survivors of sexual violence are given the fair hearing that they deserve. Both measures would empower police, prosecutors and the courts to consider evidence of sexual violence on its own merits, rather than prejudicing the question by reference to the irrelevant sexual history of a complainant, such as whether she is married or had a prior sexual relationship with the accused.

We are also heartened by the strong positive response by members of the public to the Minister’s remarks. This is consistent with our experience over three years of working to end marital immunity for rape. We have received many messages of support from women and men of varying racial and religious backgrounds, including many who work in counselling and law. As survey results demonstrate, many in Singapore regard forced sex within marriage as an assault which should be taken seriously by the criminal law. The move discussed by the Minister is wholly in accord with society’s most fundamental shared values, which consider violence in any form and by any person to be severely unacceptable conduct.

Moreover, No To Rape applauds the call by Mr Abdul Mutalif Hashi, president of the Association for Devoted and Active Family Men, to educate men that “it is not right for husbands to demand sex”. We believe that no person, regardless of gender or marital relationship, has the right to demand sex from any other person. This belief is shared by many of our supporters, both women and men.

However, we believe that such education can and should be carried out in tandem with changes to the criminal law. As marriage guidance counsellor Osman Sidek has eloquently reasoned, even if marriage entails an obligation to have sex, this does not imply that there should be no limits on the action that a spouse can lawfully take to enforce this obligation. A husband who believes himself wrongfully deprived of sex should have recourse to counselling or the divorce courts, not to violence. The act of forcing an unwilling spouse to have sex is inherently violent and should be punishable under the Penal Code.

A warm thank you to MP Vikram Nair and the Law Minister for speaking up in favour of the full legal protection of all women against sexual violence. We call upon all persons of conscience, including MPs, Ministers, as well as members of the public, to give this move their fullest support

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No To Rape members are AWARE’s 2011 Young Wonders

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

We are very honoured that AWARE has chosen Jolene Tan and Wong Pei Chi, two No To Rape core team members, as its Young Wonders for 2011. As we stressed at the time of the nomination, these awards have been made because of the work of the entire No To Rape team, and its many supporters and volunteers, in seeking the complete repeal of marital immunity for rape. No To Rape would like to thank AWARE for its support of our continuing work to combat sexual violence in the home.

Below is a video interview of Wong Pei Chi, speaking about the importance of addressing marital rape and the support that the campaign has received.

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Letter to Her World (February 2010)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

By way of update, the No To Rape blog has been silent because the public petition drive has ended, but please be assured that we are continuing to work in other ways to push for the repeal of marital immunity for rape. Anyone who would like to be part of the team is more than welcome to get in touch.

For now, though, here is some wonderful news. You may remember that Her World ran an excellent article on marital rape last year, featuring interviews with women who had experienced marital rape and also the No To Rape campaign. One reader’s response to this article was published as a letter in the February issue of Her World. No To Rape wishes her friend the very best.

Sometimes life plays its own tune and forces us to dance on it. My closest friend is a victim of marital rape and when she was hospitalised after the traumatic episode; your issue came just in time.

I have no words to explain how much your article on Marital Rape helped her. We advised her that she should report this matter to the police but as usual she just turned a deaf ear. But, this article changed her perspective, so much so, that she called me instantly to ask if I could come with her to the police station. I am happy that she got an angel in Her World that changed her life remarkably.

I am short of words to explain the joy and sense of relief that I saw in her beautiful green eyes. Today, she gives credit of this grand success to your magazine. She recommends the magazine to everyone and loves it to the core. You guys, helped her sail through the tough and the harsh times.

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“Violence across all classes”

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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

Monday, 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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Inadequacies in protection

Tuesday, 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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Her World interview available online

Thursday, 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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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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