KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — A Muslim man cannot rape his wife even if they have non-consensual sex as rape does not exist in the context of Islamic marriage, Muslims have said in response to a DAP representative’s rape awareness campaign.

In comments on a Facebook post by Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari to promote the campaign, some Muslim users expressed disagreement with a poster that said, “Without her consent, it is rape. No excuse.”

“I disagree... if within the context of husband and wife, there is no such term as rape... and one more thing, for the Muslim community, domestic matters are tried in the Shariah courts and not the civil courts... so it does not involve the Penal Code... sorry, I do not agree,” wrote one user with the screen name Seniman Nunui At Tantawi.

“Within legitimate marital bonds under Islam, there is no rape even with force. Campaign knowledgably,” said another user called Hiez Hidhir

The theme was repeated in various other comments on the page, with some arguing that the campaign should apply only to non-Muslims not be extended to followers of Islam.

Others also criticised the campaign as uninformed for saying rape occurs in every instance where a woman does not provide consent, and claimed it will trigger a backlash against DAP.

Disagreement to the existence of marital rape was not limited to Muslims, however, with one apparently non-Muslim user claiming that a husband having non-consensual sex with his wife did not equate to forced intercourse.

“I agree with the exception of WIFE. Are you saying that if I have sex with my wife when she is half asleep is rape??? Eh, that is bull shit.....” said one Anson H. Ang.

From a legal perspective, both the Muslim and non-Muslims posters are correct about non-consensual sex in marriage. Marital rape is not a crime in Malaysia per se, but a husband may be prosecuted for forcing his wife to have sex under threat of harm or death.

Under Section 375A of the Penal Code, a man who uses harm or the threat of violence to obtain sex from his wife, or any other person, may be imprisoned up to five years upon conviction.

On Tuesday, DAP’s Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin launched a rape awareness campaign in conjunction with the All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) to alter how the public perceives the crime.

Saying that rape was under-reported and poorly-prosecuted in Malaysia, Yeo’s “Rape is rape. No excuse” campaign that is funded by the Selangor government hopes to educate the public on not blaming the victim and providing support to them.

According to statistics provided by Yeo, there are 3,000 recorded rape cases every year in Malaysia but only 20 per cent of all incidents are reported to authorities.

Reading from the Home Ministry’s data, she also said that only 16 per cent of the 28,471 rape reports in 2005 were prosecuted.