Malaysian activists have long debated and fought against the exception in Section 375 of the Penal Code, which legalizes “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife” against her consent.
Despite a long and acrimonious debate, the government has decided to maintain the exception in the Penal Code that allows a man to have sexual intercourse with his wife against her consent.
After a study over a decade ago, a parliamentary committee came to a conclusion that it is indeed permissible for a husband to “rape” his wife.
This position was taken by the six-member bi-partisan special committee set up to review marital rape laws when amendments to the Penal Code were being considered between 2004 and 2006.
Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri, who is the de-facto Law Minister, said the resolve and final decision was based on the findings by a special parliamentary selected committee, which decided to retain Section 375 of the Penal Code.
However, it is an offence if a husband injures his wife with the intention of having sexual intercourse.
The crime, is punishable under Section 375A as of Sept 7 2007 and carries a jail term of up to five years.
A relationship, regardless of religion, is built upon a firm foundation of love and mutual respect and such an act of forced sexual intercourse should not be allowed. In retrospect, it defiles the purity of marriage and abuses a sacred matrimony a husband and wife share.
By forcing sexual intercourse on a wife, a husband not only disrespects her rights as a human being, but also breaks his marriage vows to eternally protect his wife at all costs. A vow after all, is never meant to be broken.
The issue of marital rape also plagues India. There exists an exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife – who is 15 or above – is not rape even if it is without consent. The exception is obviously horribly biased against women.
Proving marital rape is a difficult thing and since it is not even a criminal offence, women suffering sexual abuse in marriage are doubly disadvantaged. Sexual autonomy is still not a characteristic of our society – particularly for women – but even when it comes to violations in the name of marriage, there is no remedy for the victim.