Thursday, August 24, 2017

Let’s Get Our Priorities Right

I was relived to read the commentary “Time to hold last rites for marital-rape immunity” (14 April 2017). Professor. Eugene Tan has rightfully pointed out that the concept of “Marital-rape immunity” is anachronistic. More worryingly, the debate on Marital-rape immunity reveals something very disturbing about our legal and social approach to sex.

I support the government’s tough stand on crime. What I disagree with and find disturbing is the fact that when it comes to sexual behavior, there are laws which seem designed to encourage the wrong type of behavior like marital-rape immunity.

The lack of debate both in parliament and in the public sphere becomes even more disturbing when you compare it to the debates on the repeal of 377A, where you have the “LGBT” community and the “Religious” community going through great lengths and with great passion to get their point of view across. Whenever the topic of 377A comes into the public sphere, you will inevitably get letters for and against the law being published in the press.

By contrast, nobody talks about marital-rape immunity. Women do not talk about a woman’s right to say no. The religious community remains silent about social norms or moral standards. You might get the odd letter in the press by an academic now and then and nobody has challenged the constitutional validity of marital-rape immunity in the courts nor does anybody hold a march at Hong Lim Park.

Surely, something is wrong here. How is it possible for a society to turn the right of consenting adults to act in a certain way in the privacy of the bedroom into a national debate on social morality while we remain silent on the concept of allowing someone to force himself on another person without the other person’s consent?

I am the father of a teenage girl and I hope that she will one day find a good man to settle down with. As a father, I want my daughter to have the choice of when and whom she offers her body to. How can I accept that she needs to surrender her body whenever her future husband feels like it?

We have achieved so much in the last 50-years in terms of our economic development. I am proud of how our society is a mixture of cultures and religions. A good deal of this has been achieved by the hard work of strong women like the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew.

So, how is it that we’ve taken this long to lift legalized rape? Are we really a society that is happy to take from our women when they feel like it? Do we find it acceptable to be ambivalent about rape in any shape or form?

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