There is no doubt that women’s rights in Malaysia have not progressed much but in fact in some instances actually have retrogressed. Take for example, the issue of rape.
Women’s groups have submitted that marital rape be classified as an offence under the Penal Code, as has been the case in many overseas countries. The old fashioned thinking that husbands' conjugal rights shall be indisputable and unquestionable has ignored the reality that marriage isn’t a licence for unrestrained bonking at the husband’s whims and fancies.
The woman has a right to refuse to participate. Certainly that’s cause for divorce but more certainly not for violence leading to rape. Rape is the act of forcing another person (even a spouse) to submit to sex acts including sexual intercourse. Women’s groups have argued that marital rape is against the Syariah law and those of other religions.
But unfortunately the parliamentary select committee tasked with reviewing the Criminal Procedure Code and Penal Code has rejected the women’s submission.
Instead, the committee proposes to insert a new clause where a husband causing hurt or threatening his wife with death in order to have sexual intercourse may face imprisonment of up to five years. That’s a diluted version of what current laws prescribe for rape offences.
Currently, those convicted of rape could face up to 20 years in jail and/or whipping but no less than 5 years. Then, for those convicted of aggravated rape, the jail terms can extend up to 30 years with a minimum of five and/or whipping.
The parliamentary select committee’s proposes only ‘up to’ 5 years, meaning it could be 1 year! That’s a world of difference for the punishment, basically a reduction in the sentence for rape. I fear the committee still entertains out-of-date thinking.
Aggravated rape doesn’t mean that rape per se is not violent. All rapes are. But, as Malaysiakini advised, aggravated rape is:
(1) the victim is hurt or put in fear of death;
(2) rape in the company and presence of other persons;
(3) rape of those below 16 years of age without consent;
(4) rape those below 12 years of age with or without consent;
(5) rape a pregnant woman and;
(6) rape by those in a position of authority irrespective of consent.
The brutal husband who raped his wife would fall under point (1), and maybe in some cases under points (3) and (5), while I have in mind someone for the last point but who has gotten off scot-free, and in the most shameful obscenity in Malaysian (lack of) justice, a public champion had to suffer the penalty instead.
The 4th point would apply to 2 evil scumbags that I had blogged last month in Filthy slugs in our society. Wait, there’s more on this aspect shortly.
But that’s not all what the committee seeks to do. It wants to remove the minimum five-year mandatory jail term for convicted rapists. It proposes to break the punishment for rape into two categories in order to allow the courts to be no longer bound by the minimum five-year jail term. Why?
Then the biggest disgrace has been its proposed amendments to the conviction for committing incest. Incest with an underage child would also be aggravated rape. Currently incest carries a jail sentence of between 15 and 30 years with up to ten strokes of the rotan (cane). The committee now proposes to reduce the jail term to between eight and 15 years.
Their bullshit is that the reduced sentence will encourage the public to report the offence.
Tell me, would a victim or the guardian representing the victim be influenced by the difference between 15 to 30 and 8 to 15? Would they, when reporting to the police, be inhibited by it? Would those poor unfortunates, when testifying in court, be even aware or conscious of the difference in the terms of the sentence?
This is sheer nonsense!
Then continuing on its unsupportable course, the committee wants the punishment for rape cum murder from the present mandatory death penalty to either the death penalty or imprisonment of between 15 and 30 years and not more than 10 strokes of the rotan, because it claims that there might be those who did not intend to cause the death of the rape victim. With the amendment, the courts will have more discretion to decide whether the accused should face imprisonment or a death penalty.
Now, KTemoc is against the death sentence so I am happy even for them to remove that draconian punishment completely.
But judge for yourself its proposal for snatch theft, that it be defined as a specific offence with perpetrators facing up to 14 years in jail. OK, there had been a couple of deaths associated with snatch thefts but in those cases, murder wasn’t intended. The deaths were caused by the victim being hurt when they fell down as a result from the abrupt jerk of the snatch theft. If death occurs as a result of snatch theft, then charge the perpetrator with either murder or manslaughter.
But my point is this - consider the possibility of a snatch thief receiving 14 years of imprisonment, while a rape-murder criminal gets only 15 years, a husband sexually assaultng his resisting and perhaps pregnant wife a mere 5 (or maybe 1 or less), years, and the worst of all, the slimy slug who rapes his own underage daughter in a disgusting act of incest would get max 15 years or just 8 if he puts on a 'welfare face' and blames his 12-year old daughter for being 'gatal' (randy).
It appears to be that rape in general, and specific rape in particular such as incest with an underage child, aren't viewed with the gravity those crimes demand.