NoToRape – Have you wrote yours?

Singaporeans and PR,

We are demanding that marital rape be criminalised in Singapore. I have written my letter to the Ministry of Law and Home Affairs

Have you wrote yours?

Minister for Home Affairs Mr Wong Kan Seng (

Minister for Law Mr K. Shanmugan (

Guidelines and Important points to make:

1) Marital immunity for rape is based on archaic ideas and serves to deny women the protection of the law against violence.

2) The current law is arbitrary and inconsistent. The offence of “sexual penetration” under Section 376 criminalises non-consensual anal and oral penetration within marriage, as well as penetration of the vagina with the hand, without any immunity. This shows that the law and its officers are able and willing to adjudicate on the issue of non-consent to sexual activity within marriage. Why should the position be different for penile-vaginal acts?

3) There is no evidence that abolition of marital immunity for rape in other jurisdictions has led to an “opening of the floodgates” for false allegations. The position we seek is the status quo in Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and elsewhere. None of these countries is considering reinstating marital immunity because of abuses by wives.

More information

My Letter

A high incidence of rape cases take place within the ‘safe’ institution of marriage. Having peer-counselled students from dysfunctional families when I was younger, it came as a shock to me how prevalent rape within marriage was. The UN Division for the Advancement of Women (UNODC) in an expert group meeting of good practices in legislation on violence against women in Vienna in 2008 included the marital rape provision highlighting that because rape often takes place within close partnerships, because it is often accompanied by some degree of economic dependence, stigmatization and fear of separation/divorce (most notably, the impact upon the children after a breakdown in marriage) such rapes persist over longer periods and become very traumatizing to the victim concerned. The question the campaign is asking is ‘How is the law going to protect victims that fall into this category?’ Economic and psychological coercion that are material elements for conviction in a non-marital rape case EXIST BY DEFAULT in most families by virtue of the traditional roles men and women play. Not all women have the easy option of immediate exit.

The flood-gates of false allegations hasn’t been a recorded phenomena the way it has played out in the minds of the public. And the law itself can regulate and filter out false and weak claims. A right that is open to abuse does not cease to be a right at all. Abuse of process is as much an issue in rape cases as it is in marital rape cases and as much as it is in many other criminal and civil cases. Abuse of process is a question of good law-making, monitoring and reporting. Such mechanisms will oversee the implementation of this law and particularly whether it causes any unintended consequences (such as queues of revengeful ex-wives writhing in anger outside police stations and family courts). I suggest where there are doubts, read the tested-experience of many countries which have criminalized marital rape and how issues of evidence and consent have been dealt with in their laws.

Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland have all criminalized marital rape. The Namibian Combating of Rape Act (2000) does so by stating: “No marriage or other relationship shall constitute a defence to a charge of rape under this Act”. In 2002, the Supreme Court ofNepal in the case of Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD) vs. His Majesty’s Government/Nepal (HMG/N) found the marital rape exemption to be unconstitutional and contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 2003, the introduction of the Criminal Code (Sexual Offences and Crimes against Children) Act 2002 in Papua New Guinea abolished marital immunity in relation to rape. [Source: United Nations Division for the Advancement for Women UNODC ‘Good Practices in legislation on violence against women’ (Vienna 2008)]

The campaign also points out to some inconsistencies within the law. Anal and oral penetration is wrong within marriage if it is non-consensual (there is no immunity attached) but non-consensual penile-vaginal intercourse is not a crime?

As the Minister of Law and Home Affairs, it is your obligation to address these legitimate and pressing concerns raised by the campaign and work in consultation with the campaign leaders, community and religious councils to advice on, assist and formulate a policy or draft to ensure accessible justice to victims of marital rape including ensuring they exercise some agency and control over their case and ensuring that they do not become re-victimized in the process.

As a Singaporean citizen concerned about the issue, I expect and look forward to hearing a positive reply from you.


Natasha Latiff


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