Malaysiakini Letter

Sex a conjugal right

K Gan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I refer to the letter Ridiculous to criminalise marital rape .

Allow me to point out that in our society, as well as in many other civilised societies, non-consummation in marriage is good and sufficient grounds for annulment of the union.

A straightforward annulment. One does not even have to go through the trouble and complexities of applying for a divorce. If this is the legal position, where does the presumption stand that sex is not a conjugal right or obligation in marriage?

Politeness and prudishness in civil society do not permit the crude declaration of each partner's right to engage in sex with the other in marriage vows. However, this should not be mistakenly construed that sex is not required as part and parcel of marriage.

This conjugal right to sex covers both partners in the union and the wife is as entitled to apply for an annulment for the husband's refusal to consummate the marriage as the other way around.

If sex is legally a conjugal right then the notion of marital rape is clearly inconsistent with such a right and the imprudent result of overly aggressive feminists in Western societies and the desire of vote hungry lawmakers to accommodate them.

If indeed force is used by the husband to obtain non-consensual sex with his wife, then the use of such force is adequately covered by the Domestic Violence Act, without the need to introduce a dubious piece of legislation with deep detrimental implications to the institution of marriage.

The issue here is not about sex per se, but about mistreatment, abuse and violence perpetrated by one party on the other, which may occur not only in the matter of sex but also in any other activity in marriage. So why the need to single out sex?

For when we legalise the concept of marital rape, we open a can of worms, with implications extending far beyond the protection of women from domestic violence.

If wives can cry rape just because they are not in the mood, then it implies that they have the legal right to withhold sex at their whims and fancies.

As sex is a basic biological need, should we then allow the unfortunate husband, from whom sex has been unreasonably denied to legally fulfill his need elsewhere?

If such is the case then we must re-examine the whole institution of marriage from the legal, moral and cultural standpoint and indeed the very purpose of marriage itself.

Is not the purpose of marriage to provide a stable union for the production and bringing up of offspring?

Within this framework, the conjugal right to sex with one's spouse is logical and reasonable and the alienation of this right, is good and sufficient reason to end the union there and then.

If the core issue here is the better protection of women within marriage, then we should talk about strengthening the Domestic Violence Act or other appropriate means rather then criminalising sex between husband and wife.

By introducing an obnoxious piece of legislation such as marital rape, we may inadvertently open Pandora's box and weaken or destroy the institution of marriage.

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