Malaysian ministry seeks legal definition of 'marital rape'

PETALING JAYA - The Attorney-General's Chambers will define what constitutes marital rape.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said it was up to the A-G to come up with the definition of marital rape, because different people had different thoughts on what constitutes it.

"There has to be a common definition of the act and we also have to see if there are many cases of marital rape in Malaysia.

"For now, we will leave it to the A-G," she told reporters after launching the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) report on domestic violence yesterday.

In a series of tweets, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri rubbished claims that the law failed to protect women who were forced into having sex with abusive husbands.

"It's a lie to suggest that battered wives who are coerced into sex aren't protected under the law. Please refer to Section 375A of the Penal Code," she tweeted.

Section 375A of the Code makes it a crime for a husband to cause hurt in order to have sexual intercourse.

The section states that a husband who "causes hurt or fear of death or hurt" to his wife, or any other person, to have sex with her shall be punished with a maximum jail sentence of five years.

Nancy, who is the minister in charge of law, said just because the law did not term the crime as "mariĀ­tal rape", it did not mean there was no law to protect battered wives. "Term lain, substance sama (different terms, same substance)," she said.

Nancy added that sexism should never be tolerated in Parliament and at home, adding it should never be treated as something normal.

Some women's groups, including the Association of Women Lawyers, had said they were disappointed by the Government's stand in refusing to criminalise marital rape.

This was in response to a parliamentary reply by Nancy, who later clarified that Malaysian laws protected wives under Section 375A of the Penal Code.

On a man's acquittal of raping a minor in Sibu, Nancy said she was disappointed over the outcome of the case, which had come to be known as "finger rape".

"I've asked the A-G to review our rape laws," she said.