What happens when you get married? I guess the answer to this question will vary from couple to couple, or even person to person, but there are some things that should just be standard, which is why reading Amos Wu’s letter to The Straits Times forum was so infuriating.
In his letter Mr Wu asserts that Singapore’s existing laws on marital rape are adequate. That’s his view, and while I disagree, he’s entitled to have that opinion. But in arguing his point, Mr Wu betrays some very worrying beliefs about marriage and what goes into one.
Mr Wu suggests that, after marriage, a spouse has a right to sex. No. Just no. When two people get married, it doesn’t mean they give up ownership of their bodies. When a woman marries a man, she does not sign over her body for his lifelong sexual gratification. Even after marriage, both parties have the right to refuse sex whenever they want to. It doesn’t matter what the reason is; no one owes anyone sex. Sexual relations may be “expected” – in the sense that we “expect” that a husband and wife would have sex – but no one is entitled to it.
Mr Wu concludes by saying, “That a wife would claim rape by her husband speaks more about the quality of their marital relations than about the adequacy of existing laws protecting women.”
That a wife would claim rape by her husband is an allegation that needs to be taken seriously. Singapore’s current legislation makes it more difficult – even impossible – for this to happen. Telling a woman, “Your reporting your husband of rape suggests that your marriage isn’t going well” isn’t helpful. It will not help to discover the truth behind the allegation, nor will it help a woman being abused by her husband. That is why Singapore’s law on marital rape is inadequate, and why it needs to be urgently addressed.