BANGI, April 27 — A Muslim does not need his wife’s consent to have sex with her as marriage gives a man a right to his spouse’s body, hardline Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia (HTM) has claimed.
HTM spokesman Ustaz Abdul Hakim Othman said it is sinful for a Muslim woman to reject her husband for sex and that Islam only permits her to do so if she is “exhausted”, not “merely tired”; ill; or if intercourse will harm her health.
“Even if it’s by force, it’s not sinful for him; the sin is on his wife,” Hakim told Malay Mail Online when met at HTM’s headquarters here yesterday.
“But if he hits or kicks his wife in order to have sex, that’s wrong. You have to look at the level of their struggle — if it doesn’t harm her, it’s okay; but if it harms her, it’s wrong.
“The wife, though, must know that it’s wrong to reject him,” he added.
Several Muslims said on Facebook recently that marital rape does not exist in Islam even if a Muslim has non-consensual sex with his wife.
They were responding to DAP’s Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin’s rape awareness campaign called “Rape is rape. No excuse” that lists as rape — sex with an intoxicated woman, sex with a girl below 16 years of age, sex with one’s own wife without her consent, and sexual assault by strangers.
Hakim said marriage legalises a Muslim to have sexual relations with a woman.
“Your body is to be used by your husband, to put it crudely. When you marry a woman, there’s no need to get consent [for sex], no need at all,” he said.
He also said a Muslim woman cannot reject her husband’s sexual advances on the basis that she has “no mood”, but stressed that a Muslim man is similarly obligated to fulfill his wife’s requests for sex.
“Those are the rights of husband and wife...When you have premarital sex, it’s sinful. But if you do it with your wife or husband, you get blessings,” he added.
The spokesman of the conservative Muslim group told a forum earlier that according to several hadiths, a woman who rejects her husband for sex will be “cursed by angels throughout the night”.
Hadiths are sayings and actions attributed to Prophet Muhammad.
Association of Women Lawyers president Meera Samanther said marital rape is not a criminal offence in Malaysia, noting that Section 375A of the Penal Code only criminalises the act of a husband hurting his wife, or putting into her the fear of death or hurt, in order to have sexual intercourse with her.
“It’s not the act of rape that’s an offence; it’s putting the fear,” Meera told Malay Mail Online.
“There’s this view that women are property of husbands. That archaic view is still there,” the women’s rights activist added.
Meera also said the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality, a coalition of women’s rights groups, has been lobbying since the 1980s for marital rape to be criminalised.
Criminal lawyer Datuk Geethan Ram said he knows of cases where both Muslim and non-Muslim women lodge police reports about being raped by their spouses, but the complainants do not continue to have their cases prosecuted in court.
“In most instances, they want a report to be used in their divorce application or proceedings,” he said.
The former deputy public prosecutor said women do not want to proceed with prosecution of their rape complaints because some of them are homemakers who are financially dependent on their husbands and noted that even when their spouses are charged with rape, they still have to continue living together.
“[There’s also the] misconception that they are duty bound to ‘provide’ sex since they are married,” said Geethan, noting that this misconception is not unique to Muslim women but is prevalent among “most women, even the educated”.