I was so incensed about the section 377A issue that I forgot to speak on this other issue – the immunity of husbands from marital rape. Many MPs touched on this issue [all videos can be viewed here], coming down on either side. I am not going to bother rebutting the arguments of those who argued for the retention of immunity, as NMP Siew Kum Hong has offered an excellent argument. And I have just one thing to offer all those people who maintain that marital rape immunity protects family values: wait till you get raped by the man you vowed to love and cherish.
What I wish to speak about, is Ellen Lee’s speech. You can watch it here.
Ellen Lee, from the start, made a cogent, persuasive argument about why marital rape immunity was not acceptable. She even cited a 1998 rape case there can be rape in a marital situation. She made very good arguments about why the women who are the most likely to be victims are also least likely to be able to protect themselves under the exceptions.
And then, in a sleight of hand, she took it all back, and said that married women shouldn’t be allowed to cry rape for vindictive reasons, and hence the new law was valid. She fears a sudden change in society’s views to marriage, and for the victims, the courts are supposed to be there to judge whether the claim is valid.
She makes so many leaps of logic in the last statement that I thought she was playing hopscotch. All the way, she has argued for why marital rape immunity does not make sense, and how the proposed amendments do not protect the women who need it the most – so how does she come to the sudden conclusion that the amendments are just fine? Also, her statement about “sudden change” is rather laughable – laws do not shape society’s views overnight. They mould each other in the fullness of time, in a complex interplay of public policy and populist moves. If we repeal marital immunity, wives are not going to wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly decide to cry rape because he forgot to pick up the drycleaning.
To say that this law should be retained in order to prevent wolf-crying, is to completely ignore what rape is, and the criminal proceedings of rape. Rape is a deeply shameful secret for many women, something they carry around their entire lives in silence. Even if the said abuser is not a loved one, it takes a lot of courage to report him. What more, if it is a loved one? There is much she has to go through – she said it herself, many women are raped a second time on the stand, by the cross-examination, by the media attention, by the people around her who gossip. It has to be proven beyond a shadow of doubt she did not “ask” for it. In the first place, the police will interrogate her to make sure she is not crying rape – they will try to make her admit she “asked for it”, or that she consented to it. After getting through this humiliating hurdle, there are the lawyers, the courts, the media. Many rape victims drop their cases mid-way.
With all these restrictions in the way, imagine how much more difficult it is to report and prove the rape by a long-term consensual sexual partner? Firstly, there is the emotional barrier – they might be in love, unable to identify themselves as victims, not wanting their partners to go to jail. They might be hoping he’ll change, love them better. People who talk about crying foul, have no conception what it is like to be an abusive relationship – and how deeply the victim can be in the abuse. After reporting him, there is the hurdle of having to prove that you did not consent to this particular instance of sexual contact, after having consented for so long. You yourself said this – it is almost impossible. And by your own arguments, we know how marital rape can occur before the wife has a chance to take legal proceedings – so why are you arguing that the proposed changes are valid?
Even if a woman manages to get past all this, and cries foul… is it not the same as a woman crying foul about a non-marital partner? Should we then, take out rape altogether? So that no woman can ever cry foul about a man? It is up to the courts and judges to decide whether a particular case is valid.
Ellen Lee [and other MPs] also speaks about family values: on what basis is it good family values to encourage our men to rape their wives, to treat their wives as chattel until she takes legal proceedings? Marriage should be based on equality and consent, not archaic ideals of sexual entitlement. No one is entitled, even if it is a long-term sexual relationship.
Ellen Lee, your logic astounds me – at least the other MPs were consistent in their stand, being for or against marital rape. How do you argue for repeal of immunity all the way, and then suddenly switch to the other foot?
Oh, I forgot, you were playing hopscotch.
Dear Ms Thio
I am not as learned as you in law. I am but a first-year law student. A law student who happens to identify as queer, and has spent the last two years working in the queer activism scene, who now loves a woman, who now wishes to rid this country of the blight known as section 377A.
Ms Thio, I am sure you know this section very well… in fact, you dedicated an entire speech to the impassioned defence of it, not even touching on things like marital rape immunity. I am surprised… I thought an educated, feminist woman like yourself would have some feelings on this section which effectively takes away the right of married women to their bodies…. but I digress. You expounded in detail upon the merits of retaining this law. You showed us all how much you hate us gay people – like we couldn’t tell from the letters to ST. When I read your speech, my first impulse was to laugh. Then as I read on, cringing at the leaps of logic, and wincing at the palpable hatred pouring out of the paper.
I will now proceed to rebutt you: point by point.
I was wondering how long it would be before someone started a counter-petition like this.
I haven’t seen a more pathetic petition in my entire life. Seriously, I do acknowledge that other people might have different opinions on this issue, and it is entirely legitimate for them to make their own voices heard. It is a free country after all. Technically.
1. The “Majority”
The argument that it is justifiable to oppress minority groups just because the majority feels that way, is what the entire petition is about. By the same token, just because Chinese people don’t like Indian people, it is entirely justifiable to make racist laws.
2. “Scientific” premise
The much-touted NTU study is what they use to back up the argument that they are indeed the majority. Singaporeans’ Attitudes toward Lesbians and Gay Men and their Tolerance of Media Portrayals of Homosexuality, by Benjamin H. Detenber, Mark Cenite, et. al., International Journal of Public Opinion Research. What these people conveniently ignore is that this study is about media portrayals – not a general attitude. Isn’t the title more than a little self-evident, or did Mr Martin Tan never learn to read? What people will and will not tolerate on screen is hardly an indication of what they will tolerate in real life – people may tolerate extreme violence and murder on screen, but would most ever approve of that in real life?
3. Research section
Consists of grand total of two links, one to the already irrelevant NTU study, and another to an ST article. Any self-respecting anti-gay website should have at least some links to not-that-solid research talking about how mentally unstable and dangerous gay people are. And how they destroy society.
There are numerous multiple signatures on the site. And it is not even a case of occasional double-posting – consistently repetitive names and signatures, in addition to many spam signatures. The number is hardly indicative of the real support for the petition – it is even less credible than the online petition to repeal 377A.
Once again, while I respect free speech, some of the comments leave me confused as to laugh or cry. It is a parade of ignorance, and I honestly feel sorry for these people, going about life with such a myopic view. And once again… I really don’t see how me kissing my girlfriend destroys your family, your “safety”. If anti-gay person could explain that to me, I would be eternally grateful.
And lastly… show some creativity, man. Do you really have to copy the design of the repeal377a.com website?