Rape Jokes – Don’t You Dare To Even Start
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In Malaysia, Section 376 of the Penal Code states that “whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to twenty years, and shall be liable to whipping.”
Rape has been historically seen as a taboo topic to be discussed. Those who act upon it have been punished either constitutionally, religiously or in gruesome ways by the people who arrest them. However, recently rape victims are the ones being shamed for. There is this rhetoric where rape victims bring shame to their family and the crime should not be reported to the police in fear that the story would go viral.
There is an average of five rape cases reported in Malaysia on a daily basis, however, these numbers only represent those who have reported. What about those left unreported? Those who do not have the to report or those who were unaware that they were raped, possibly due to being drunk or drugged?
Rape In Custody
There’s also the concern over unsuccessful rape assaults, threats, indecent behaviour, incestual rape, statutory rape, and bafflingly, rape in police custody.
On 8th of January 2021, a 16-year-old girl who was detained in the Miri Police Station, Sarawak, as a suspect in a gambling raid was raped by a male detainee. This case was believed to be a result of police negligence. Both police officers who were in active duty at the time faced suspension.
This case raised questions on the whereabouts of the policemen. Were they aware of the detainee’s movement around the cell? Or were they simply letting the man rape the victim? How was he let out of his cell in the first place?
How do we, as members of the public supposed to trust the police to investigate themselves? The failure to ensure the safety of minors in custody is a clear violation of the Child Act which states that minors must be separated from adults in places of detention.
We are just a few months away from 2022 and there still exists a notion that the victim is also at fault and other stigmas surrounding rape. Whether it be their clothing, the way they walk, that men cannot be raped or even the denial that rape can happen amongst married couples.
However, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Local influencer, Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam rose to overnight stardom when she raised to the occasion in becoming a national leader against school harassment at only 17 years old. Her battle against rape culture began when she made a TikTok video exposing one of her teachers’ actions of making rape jokes in the classroom.
The said TikTok video went viral across all platforms namely TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. The overwhelming support Ain received from Malaysian netizens and most importantly, victims who relate to her experiences had inspired her to create the #MakeSchoolASaferPlace movement.
But there are two sides to same coin. Despite the empowerment Ain had received, she also faced massive backlash on her reporting. Cyberbullying, rape threats, and even a warning letter from her own high school authorities threatening expulsion, as well as legal action from the accused teacher. The irony is that the teacher’s information was never made public by Ain nor her family.
Ain Husniza’s story gives us a glimmer of hope that Malaysia will have more professional future educators who will produce next generation leaders. Her brave decision in advocating this movement rewarded her the opportunity to guest as a speaker at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the 30th of October 2021. Entitled, “INSPIRE: Ending Violence Against Children During Covid-19 and Beyond”, she spoke alongside United Nations (UN) secretary-general, Dr Najat Maala M’jid.
Rape culture is still a disregarded topic amongst the Malaysian community. Many are doubtful that rape jokes reflect the seriousness of the situation. However, studies have shown that rape jokes or “locker room talks” mark the start in normalising rape in society.
Consent is also seen as a foreign idea mainly due to confusion and the belief that rape cannot happen in marriages and that victims are also at fault by “giving signals” to the perpetrator.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee called for Putrajaya to criminalise marital rape from the year 2006 onwards. However, the Malaysian government has been reluctant and slow in recognising as well as codifying marital rape as a criminal offence.
Although the term “marital rape” is not found in any legislation, Section 375A of the Malaysian Penal Code does provide punishment for a husband who solicits sex via intimidation and causing hurt to his wife. The section states that:
“any man who during the subsistence of a valid marriage causes hurt or fear of death or hurt to his wife or any other person in order to have sexual intercourse with his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years.”
Malaysia remains constrained by the old English presumption that a married woman is considered to have given her consent to sexual intercourse by the contract of matrimony, and that consent cannot subsequently be revoked as marriage is for life.
There is without a doubt that whether or not you consume Malaysian television, Malaysian celebrities still have a big influence on the community and targeted demographic.
Malaysian actor Fauzi Nawawi made indecent jokes or rather, specific commentary on rape scenes he had acted out in his previous films. Adjusting to toxic male-dominated humour alongside the hosts of the talk show, Rumah No. 107 aired by Astro Warna, this uncomfortable segment was released on the 19th of October’s episode. The 48-year-old actor failed to consider the awkwardness of filming rape scenes, let alone the trauma that actual sexual assault victims face.
He has since made a public apology though due behind Raja Farah’s, the woman he acted those scenes with. She and her husband had beforehand shared statements on her personal Instagram (@rajafarahaziz) to address the seriousness of the matter.
NGO’s to immediately contact
With the distrust of the police force, sexual assault victims might not know who else to turn to. Below is a comprehensive list of some Malaysian NGO’s that provide assistance to said victims.
Befriender’s Kuala Lumpur
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24 hours
They are multi-racial, non-religious and are available to everyone regardless of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation. All their volunteers are trained and each conversation is considered strictly confidential. You may remain completely anonymous to them.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Helpline: 03 7956 3488
SMS / WhatsApp: 018 988 8058
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: 24 hours
In 1982, WAO set up Malaysia’s first domestic violence shelter. Today, they are the largest service provider for domestic violence survivors in Malaysia.
Protect & Save The Children
SMS / WhatsApp: 016 721 3065
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: MON-FRI 8:30am – 5:30pm
Protect & Save The Children provides case intervention and support to survivors and families affected by child sexual abuse. If you’re personally experiencing abuse or you know someone who is experiencing child abuse, reach out to this NGO immediately via their helpline.
There is a need for Malaysian authorities to properly address this issue, to rectify policies and laws that will protect victims no matter the race or nationality, religion, financial background or creed. As members of society, we also have a responsibility to not enable people to act nor joke about rape. It all starts with us.