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.
We’re very pleased and honoured to announce that two No To Rape team members, Jolene Tan and Wong Pei Chi, have been nominated for the youth category of the first AWARE Awards. This nomination is a recognition of all the work that every team member and supporter has put into abolishing marital immunity for rape in Singapore.
No To Rape would also like to offer our congratulations to all the nominees for the AWARE Awards, including in particular Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong and Benny Bong of the Society Against Family Violence, who have both been speakers at No To Rape events and have done a great deal of invaluable work to address the problem of sexual violence.
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.
We would like to thank the blog Barnyard Chorus for supporting No To Rape, with quite a few posts on the subject of marital immunity for rape. The latest quotes a legal discussion on human rights and argues that full legal recognition of marital rape is necessary for the humane treatment of women:
While disbelief and associated impunity reign, the violated are–systematically and effectively speaking–rendered not fully human legally or socially. When and where this denial is overcome the rights against the extreme and the normal are recognized, the treatment is defined as inhuman and the victims human.
[...] The reason why [opponents of No To Rape] make these arguments is that in their view there is no need for the law to treat the rape of women as the punishable violation of human beings.
We have acknowledged that the abolition of marital immunity alone will not address all the issues raised by marital rape, and the precise criminal justice responses that are appropriate upon conviction should be open for discussion. However, an adequate solution cannot be found unless there is first a complete and honest acknowledgement that marital rape is a wrong, which society – through the law – condemns as criminal.
Many victims of marital rape report an atmosphere of silence and suppression around their experiences, and at our Seminar social worker Benny Bong, President of the Society Against Family Violence, noted that the social denial of the rape and other domestic violence often amounts to further victimisation in and of itself. It is a refusal of the validity and legitimacy of the pain, and the sense of violation, that these women suffer. Little wonder one signatory on our petition has left a message saying that, in the face of the law as it stands, “As a woman myself, I do not feel respected by my country.”
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 , , ,  (it is not mentioned in that entry, but Mr Blakely is a marriage counsellor with Wesley Methodist Church) and  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.
Thanks to your help in spreading the word, we now have more than 2,800 signatures on the Petition. This is a great show of support for the abolition of marital immunity for rape, but we can do more. Please continue to let others know about the petition – tell your family members over dinner, post it to your Facebook profile or your blog, or make use of our handy leaflets to let people know about No To Rape.
As always, many of you have left messages that are well worth highlighting. Rajashree Rajan writes:
Rape is well-documented and understood to be about power rather than sex itself or pleasure. If we as a society frown upon sexual harassment at work or in a social setting, why should we allow a man to exert such a violent & invasive show of power of a women merely because they share a marriage certificate?
Lim Hsuan’ya adds:
I am very disappointed and utterly upset when I learn about this. How can we call ourself a modern society when such medival law exist. As a woman myself, I do not feel respected by my country.
And Jeanne Sze Hwee Chai contrasts the message sent by marital immunity for rape against the ideals that society cherishes for marriage:
A union is suppose to be a safe place for two people to grow together. No violence, physical, emotional or sexual should be tolerated. Rape is rape, even if it’s perpetrated by a spouse.
Thank you to the more than 2,600 who have put their names to our petition, including celebrated poet Lee Tzu Pheng. Signatory Jean Goh observes:
I have heard of friends who have been through many bouts of non-consensual sex with their husband and it was not pleasant for them at all. I believe that this is not to be taken lightly because these victims have nowhere to go for help, especially since the ones harming them are the same ones who have vowed before God to protect them and treat them well. I’ve heard that sex keeps the love alive in marriage, but I don’t think it even works if the man disregards the thoughts and feelings of his wife.
In the week since it was launched, our latest film ad has been watched more than 1,400 times on YouTube. Please continue to spread the word, to help our videos and the campaign reach an even wider audience.
If you haven’t yet caught the Channel News Asia documentary on marital rape, you have a final chance tomorrow, at 5.30pm. No To Rape would like to offer a salute, with the deepest admiration, to those women who have bravely shared their experiences with the nation through this television programme. Your courage and generosity is amazing.
Thank you also to the now more than 2,500 of you who have signed the Petition. As always, many of your eloquent messages deserve to be highlighted here. Some, like this signatory, speak in a voice usually hidden from the world:
I believe in the institution of marriage. Current exceptions for marital is not enough to protect the woman. As someone who was once a victim and had to endure this quietly, I am definitely for the abolition of total rape immunity.
Social worker Hema Gurnani also sheds light on the reality of family violence:
I work in a VWO dealing with children and youth, age ranging from 3.5 – 20 years. I have been involved in social work for 12.5 years. During my work with children and youths I do interract with many parents, mostly women. It is indeed very sad to note that there are many women who suffer sexual viloence / abuse in silence because men tend to think that it is their marital right to have sex with his lawful wife with or without consent. Who is going to stop the abuse or protect the women of our country? I would think women deserve the right to choose, and be free of any sexual abuse.
Gregory Ng offers a clear, heartfelt statement from a male perspective:
this could affect the lives of our mothers, sisters and daughters. protect them like you would protect your own.
Today the campaign enters an important week. Wednesday, 26 August, is the 10th anniversary of the hearing of Public Prosecutor v N, the landmark case where a man gagged, tied up and forced sex upon his wife but could not be charged for rape – to the surprise, according to then-prosecutor Mr Wang, even of then-Chief Justice Yong Pung How. Ten years later, despite the 2007 Penal Code Review, the result in the case would be the same. Even in cases of clearcut evidence of non-consent, the law denies that someone who forcibly penetrates his wife is a rapist.
Thank you to the more than 2,300 of you who have signed our petition to express your determination that this must change. We are pleased and grateful to note that recent notable signatories include Dr Kenneth Paul Tan of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Professor Chua Beng Huat of the NUS Sociology Department and Professor Kumaralingam Amirthalingam of the NUS Law Faculty. Let’s keep the signatures coming!