The government has no plans to amend the law to criminalise marital rape, according to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
"The government cannot make it a crime. It is very difficult to prove in court. If you take it to court, it is easier for the accused to be acquitted," Hanipa was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight in Parliament earlier today, 30 October.
"What's the use of putting in a law when the chance of conviction is low?" the Sepang Member of Parliament (MP) added.
According to him, the parliament had set up a committee in 2016 to study provisions on marital rape, but it ended up disagreeing with criminalising the act.
Hanipa was responding to a question on reviewing the law for marital rape from Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah during question time in the Dewan Rakyat
Malay Mail reported him as saying that there is "inherent doubt" when rape involves a spouse. Moreover, any benefit of the doubt must be given to the accused in criminal cases.
Hanipa also cited an existing law in Malaysia which punishes those who use or threaten sexual violence against their spouse.
"Section 375(a) of the Penal Code was created to punish those who have used violence or threat of violence against their wives for sex," the Sepang MP added.
Under the Penal Code, any man in a marriage who causes hurt, fear of death, or hurt to his wife or any other person in order to have sexual intercourse with his wife shall be punished with imprisonment of "a term which may extend to five years".
Nonetheless, the law also gives exception to sexual intercourse by a man and his wife in a marriage, which is "valid under any written law for the time being in force, or is recognised in Malaysia".
While Maria argued that the existing law is unfair to women in marriages, Hanipa referenced an English barrister and the Quran as he stressed that the government will not make any new decisions on marital rape
According to The Malaysian Insight, Hanipa cited Sir Matthew Hale, an English barrister who once wrote that "a husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract".
The Sepang MP then claimed that marital rape was a term that was created by the West, before arguing that the Quran stipulates that husbands are not allowed to be violent towards their wives.
"Islam has provided guidance on this matter," Hanipa added.