Activists in Malaysia have long argued against the exception in Section 375 of the Penal Code, which legalises "sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife" against her consent.
However, according to The Star Online, the government has now decided to keep Section 375 of the Penal Code as it is.
A parliamentary committee decided a decade ago after a study that it is permissible for a husband to "rape" his wife. This position was taken by the six-member bi-partisan speacial committee set up to review marital rape laws when amendments to the Penal Code were being considered between 2004 and 2006.thestar.com.my
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri, who is the de-facto Law Minister, said the decision was based on the findings by a special parliamentary selected committee which decided to retain Section 375 of the Penal Code.
"The provision with regard to Section 375 that intercourse between a legally married couple continues to remain in force and cannot be considered as rape. To date, there are no proposals to amend this," Shukri said in a written reply to a question from Ramkarpal Singh.
The Sarawakian lawmaker, however, noted that it was an offence if a husband injures his wife with the intention of having sexual intercourse
The crime, she said, was punishable under Section 375A as of Sept 7 2007 and carries a jail term not exceeding five years.thestar.com.my
However, if Sisters in Islam are to be believed, Islam forbids husbands from forcing sex on their wives, as it is a form of physical abuse and mental torture
The Muslim women's group rebuked recent statements that attempted to defend marital rape in the name of Islam, that were issued in the wake of "Without Consent", a rape awareness campaign launched by DAP's Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin.
"As a religion that truly respects women, the husband and wife relationship in Islam is built upon the foundations of love and mutual respect, as stated in the Al Quran's Surah Al Ruum verse 21," said the group in a statement.
The issue of marital rape also plagues India. In February this year, Supreme Court of India rejected a plea to criminalise marital rape declaring that it was not possible to amend the law for one person.
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.