Amendments to the Penal Code, the Evidence Act and the Criminal procedure Code are absolutely necessary to tackle the growing problem of violence against women

Press Statement
by Chong Eng

(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): DAP Wanita welcomes and strongly supports all the key proposals put forward by the All Action Women's Society of Malaysia, Women Centre for Change, Women's Development Collective, Women's Aid Organisation, and the Bar Council Family Law Committee.

These amendments to the Penal Code, the Evidence Act and the Criminal procedure Code are absolutely necessary to tackle this growing problem.

We support the proposal to make marital rape an offence under the Penal Code as well as widening the definition of "rape" to include object penetration, eliminating requirements for additional testimony beyond just the victim's, allow for child evidence without the need for corroboration, and to restrict admission of the victim's past sexual history. We also support the setting up of a compensation body to help survivors deal with post-rape trauma, or health issues which may arise, such as sexually-transmitted diseases.

In the current climate, the existing laws do not "help" rape victims, instead it hinders them from making police reports
and in addition, only one in ten cases in Federal territory ends with a conviction.

n October 2001, a joint anti-rape task force of NGOs - Awam, WCC, WDC, Sisters in Islam, and PS the Children - a memorandum was created following a consultation with the AG's chambers in April 2000 to discuss potential amendments to existing rape laws. According to Awam, feedback from the government so far indicate that further consultation is required, and that they wish to consult further with Islamic authorities on the issue of making marital rape an offence.

Reiterating what WAO executive director Ivy Josiah has said, we also hope there will be consultation between the drafters of the proposal and the authorities as well as the AG's chambers when they begin work on the amendments, similar to the consultative process for the Domestic Violence Act, in which both sides went through every single item in the proposals.

We strongly call upon the government to respond to the proposals put forward by the NGOs - who obviously much more experience, the relevant expertise and insight into the issues - if violence against women remains a high priority on the government's agenda.


* Chong Eng, MP for Bukit Mertajam and Chairwoman of DAP Wanita