Law to protect men from being 'seduced' into raping women proposed in Malaysia's parliament

'The actions, clothing of women can seduce us into breaking the law and causing us to be charged,' says Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Thursday 01 August 2019 09:17
Comments
Law to protect men from being 'seduced' into raping women proposed in Malaysia's parliament

A law to protect men from being “seduced” into raping women has been proposed in the Malaysian parliament.

Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid, an MP with the ruling People’s Justice Party, told his fellow politicians that men commit sex crimes because they are “seduced” by women’s actions and clothing.

“I propose a Sexual Harassment Act to protect men,” he told the Dewan Negara, the Southeast Asian country's upper house, online news portal Malaysiakini reported. “From the actions, words and clothing of women, which can cause men to be seduced to the point they can commit acts such as incest, rape, molestation, [watching] pornography and likewise.

He added: “This is important, [men] need to be protected. The actions, clothing of women can seduce us into breaking the law and causing us to be charged."

“I ask that the minister consider this so that the men in this country are safe, and the country is peaceful”.

His proposal gained the backing of senate deputy president Datuk Seri Abdul Halim Abdul Samad from United Malays National Organisation, Malaysia's biggest and main national opposition political party.

He argued it was a “good viewpoint”.

His comments were however condemned by the non-profit organisation, the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), which criticised him for placing the onus on victims rather than perpetrators of sexual violence.

“It is unacceptable for the senator to place the blame of rape, molestation, incest, porn and otherwise on the victim,” it said. “After all, it is the perpetrator who must take responsibility for their own actions. The idea that victims are unable to access justice or demand some form of redress after undergoing such a dehumanising experience simply adds to the creation of a culture of fear and violence.”

It added: “Underlying all of this is the assumption that gender-based violence stems from desire or lust. However, such violence is never about desire or lust. It is about power and objectification."

Putrajaya, Malaysia’s federal administrative centre, is planning to table a Sexual Harassment Bill this year. This comes after a consultation with survivors of sexual harassment and non-governmental organisations.

AWAM said the statement by the senator was made in response to the piece of legislation.

Jennifer Wells-Qu, who works for the Asia branch of Equality Now, a non-government-organisation which aims to promote the rights of women and girls, said: "The notion that victims of rape, sexual assault, or other forms of violence be penalised for their abuse is absolutely abhorrent and the epitome of victim-blaming. A perpetrator of abuse is just that, a perpetrator, and should be penalised as such.

"To put forward legislation like this not only puts women and girls at greater risk but also creates an environment of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence and goes against well-established international norms and values around sexual consent and gender equality."

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She called for the Malaysian government to enact laws and practices that encourage women and girls who have experienced sexual violence and abuse to speak up and seek justice.

"This includes instigating policies that address victim-blaming culture and counter the types of harmful and erroneous gender stereotypes that senator Mohd Imran Abd Hamid is propagating," she added.

One in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her lifetime, mostly by an intimate partner, according to the World Health Organisation.

The United Nations estimates that of all women who were the victims of homicide in 2017 (87,000), 58 per cent of them were killed by intimate partners or family members – meaning that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day and that this number is on the rise.

Malaysia, which has a poor track record on gender equality, caned two women for breaking its strict religious laws when trying to have consensual sex with each other last September.

The unnamed women, who were aged 22 and 32, are thought to have been caned six times at a courtroom in the Terengganu state in front of family members and government officials.

The pair, who were arrested in April last year by Islamic enforcement officers, admitted a charge of “sexual relations between women” and were also fined 3,300 ringgit (£633).

Homosexual sex is illegal throughout Malaysia under colonial era criminal law and is punishable by canings or a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Campaigners say the dominant Malay Muslim culture makes homosexuality a sensitive and even dangerous topic – meaning many LGBT+ Muslims are forced to keep their sexual identity a secret.

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