AWL is of the view that Section 375A of the Penal Code is deficient for many reasons. For example:
a) the section in its current form, fails to recognise that rape is a crime involving an act of sexual violence without the victim's consent. There are instances where marital rape occurs in the absence of any visible signs of injury on the victim as the perpetrator may resort to other forms of coercion (e.g. economic, emotional threats, blackmail etc).
b) it should also be highlighted that the prescribed punishment under Section 375A is imprisonment up to 5 years - extremely mild when compared with Section 375 which prescribes a minimum period of incarceration of 5 years up to a maximum of 20 years AND whipping.
If Section 375 and Section 375A were meant to be the same animal under the guise of a different term, then why is there an apparent and gross disparity in sentencing guidelines??
Why is the offence of marital rape not stigmatised in the same manner as the other categories of rape under S375? Why should rape in a marital relationship be punished less severely? Does S375A send a sufficiently strong message of condemnation of the act of marital rape?
These are but a few questions for each of us to consider when evaluating whether or not the existing S375A is adequate in providing deterrence and justice to victims of marital rape.
Goh Siu Lin