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Posts Tagged ‘Updates’

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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Welcome change to Evidence Act

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

No To Rape strongly welcomes the decision announced by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to repeal Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act. This provision states that in legal proceedings “when a man is prosecuted for rape [...] it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character” in order to impeach the credibility of the rape complainant. (See previous AWARE article on this issue here).

The Minister stated the reasons for the repeal at the recent official launch of AWARE’s Sexual Assault Befrienders Service, an important specialised service providing support to those who have experienced sexual assault. He described his consultation with civic groups including No To Rape and AWARE on the matter of rape complaint procedures, and pointed out that Section 157(d) rests on two “antediluvian and repugnant” “myths” which “should [not] find any expression in our laws”. Namely, that:

a) a woman who is sexually experienced is less credible as a witness; and
b) a woman who is sexually experienced is more likely to have consented to sexual activity.

The Minister went on to state:

The approach we should take to this, whether it is a man or a woman – matters relating sexual history, just like a man who has been previously accused, whether that should or should not be taken into account – sexual history of either party can only be taken into account if it is relevant for that particular case. So, we really ought to leave it to the courts. Neither should we say it is completely irrelevant. It really depends on the facts, and it cannot just be the woman. That must be the right approach.

Like all other evidence, matters relating to a victim’s sexual history must satisfy the threshold of relevance before they can be introduced, rather than as dictated by Section 157(d).

No To Rape welcomes this as an improvement over the status quo, although we believe further consideration should be given to the possibility that the sexual history of the complainant will never satisfy a rational threshold of relevance, and should therefore be considered inadmissible in all cases.

In addition to this, however, No To Rape believes that the logic articulated by the Minister also requires the abolition of marital immunity for rape. Under the Penal Code as it stands, in the absence of proceedings for divorce, separation, an injunction or a personal protection order, the existence of a marital relationship is not only considered automatically relevant to rape cases. It goes a step further, to automatically determine the result: there can be no conviction. The individual facts of the case cannot be considered by the court under a rape charge, even if there is clear evidence of (for example) accompanying violence, leading to injury, or forms of physical restraint, or corroborative third party testimony, that would point strongly toward a finding of non-consent to sexual intercourse.

No To Rape congratulates the Ministry on the decision regarding the Evidence Act, and urges it to build upon this progress by also repealing Sections 375(4) and 376A(5) of the Penal Code.

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No To Rape recognised in AWARE Awards nominations

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

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.

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Update on correspondence with MCYS

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

By way of update, No To Rape has received a short reply to our latest message to MCYS. Here it is:

Dear Sir/Madam

I refer to your email on 16 Mar 2011.

2 The amendments to the Penal Code were made in 2007 following substantial public consultation and deliberation. We value your feedback and will take it into consideration in future reviews of the Penal Code. Thank you.

Best regards,

Rahayu Buang (Ms), Senior Assistant Director (Family Policy), Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports

Please continue to stay in touch for further updates on our work.

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MCYS response and No To Rape’s reply

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

[Edited on 17 March 2011 to add: A reader has pointed out that No To Rape incorrectly addressed Ms Rahayu Buang of MCYS as “Ms Buang” rather than “Ms Rahayu” in our reply. We are sorry for this error and have emailed Ms Rahayu to apologise. Many thanks to the blog visitor for pointing out our mistake.]

In October 2010 No To Rape made a submission to the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sport’s consultation on proposed amendments to the Women’s Charter. We reiterated our call for the complete repeal of Sections 375(4) and 376A(5) of the Penal Code, and also submitted that compulsory marriage preparation courses should emphasise the importance of affirmative consent in all sexual activity.

In November 2010 we received the below response from the Ministry. The reply that we sent them today is also reproduced below.

To date, given the absence of any reply to the original petition from the Prime Minister’s Office, this is the fullest statement that we have from the government on the issue of marital rape. No To Rape is continuing to work at a grassroots level to conduct research and build community report for legislative change. If you would like to be involved, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Click here to read the MCYS response and our reply

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Update on No To Rape

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Once again, we’d like to thank everyone who supported No To Rape during last year’s petition drive. Some of you are probably wondering what has happened since then. Unfortunately, more than six months have passed, and we have yet to receive any reply from the Prime Minister to our petition.

We are disappointed that there has been no response to the voices of more than 3,600 citizens and permanent residents, speaking up for the basic right of women to be protected from violence.

Nevertheless, No To Rape continues to work at a grassroots level to build community support for legislative change. If you are involved in social work, any community organisation including religious groups, or have experience of any kind – practical, academic or any other – that you would like to contribute to the prevention of sexual violence, please do not hesitate to get in touch. If you’re not sure what sort of experience you have, but simply wish to contribute in any way you can, let us know too. No To Rape is a civic movement composed entirely of volunteers, and any connections we can make will help.

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Petition submitted

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Earlier today, the petition was submitted to the Prime Minister by email. A hard copy of the signatures – standing at 3,609 after we went through them to remove spam – was also sent through the post. Thank you to everyone again for your work to spread the message. We will keep you updated on any responses that we receive.

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Petition Closed

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

We would like to thank everyone who has given his or her support to the No To Rape petition to abolish marital rape immunity in Singapore. Twenty minutes ago, our petition has officially come to a close with over 3,600 signatures.

Over the next few days, we will be putting together the data collected before presenting it to our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, by email and in hard copy. We will keep everyone updated on the progress of the campaign, so please continue to follow us by either signing up to our mailing list, joining our Facebook group, following us on Twitter, or simply returning to this blog from time to time.

This website will also undergo an overhaul to pave the way for future awareness raising and related issues that we will be working hard to bring to you. Stay tuned!

Once again, thank you very much for supporting our call to repeal marital rape immunity in Singapore.

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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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No To Rape meets Valerie Jarrett

Monday, 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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