Robotic Sex in Malaysia

I read with a smile, a recent article on how a conference on Love and Sex with Robots that was scheduled to run in Iskandar Malaysia is now caught in a limbo. Our IGP has been quoted as saying that:

There are many laws that we can use. It is an offence to have anal sex in Malaysia, what more with robots.

I’m confused as to what kind of offence it is to have sex with robots? So, I checked out the Penal Code. Quite naturally, I first jumped to the parts which concern unnatural offences.

S.377 of the PC says that, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse with an animal shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years.”

Since a robot is not an animal, this section does not apply, obviously.

S.377A of the PC says that, “Any person who has sexual connection with another person by the introduction of the penis into the anus or mouth of the other person is said to commit carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

Since a robot is not another person, this section does not apply either.

S.377D of the PC says that, “Any person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission
by any person of, any act of gross indecency with another person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.”

Since a robot is not another person, this section does not apply too.

So, I’m kind of concerned. Which laws does the IGP intend to slap on the organisers of the conference? While it is true that anal sex is unlawful in Malaysia, as we have learned from Sodomy 2.0, it is only unlawful when committed by another person, not a robot.

Therefore, I humbly submit that our IGP is speaking without authority. There is no law that bans sex with robots in Malaysia. I doubt that our out-dated and out-moded Penal Code was written with robots in mind.

So, dildos need not worry.

Updated: S.377B cannot be read alone because it merely spells out the punishment for carnal intercourse against the order of nature but the definition of what that is in S.377A, which requires another person.

Paedophilia in Malaysia

Hot on the heels of marital rape comes another issue – paedophilia – that is igniting all sorts of debate in the media. The news that a Malaysian student at Imperial College being charged and imprisoned for the possession of over 30,000 items of child pornography, sent shockwaves through our community.

What is shocking isn’t the fact that a Malaysian student was found guilty of such proclivities, but rather the reaction of the government, institutions and the people to this crime.

One minister actually suggested that the government appeal for a lightening of the sentence:

We can appeal (to reduce the length of the sentence), the problem is we are subjected to the prevailing laws of the country.

This encouraged the student’s sponsor, MARA, to suggest that the student be given a second chance to complete his studies in a MARA institution:

He said the opportunity was not exclusive to Nur Fitri Azmeer as the same opportunity could be given to any other MARA-sponsored student if they were faced with a similar fate.

One MARA council member likened paedophilia to truancy:

Students who play truant are given a second chance, so why is it different with Nur Fitri.

So, now we know where all the paedophiles of the country are going to go to school, and play truant while at it.

What is particularly sickening is that people in the country seem to lack the necessary tools to understand that the problem with paedophilia isn’t one of sexual preference but of a sexual crime. One can be both a homosexual and a paedophile. It isn’t in the same category. A paedophile isn’t like a homosexual. A paedophile is like a rapist since the issue is that of consent.

So, if people are willing to condone paedophilia, these same people are condoning rape.

Now, there is the problem because certain groups in our society do not consider sex with a minor as a crime, just like how some do not consider marital rape as a crime. This is a difficult problem to solve because it is one of values and values are different from individual to individual.

I won’t blame the normal rakyat for this confusion because our government has failed us on both regards. I have already highlighted how marital rape isn’t considered a crime in Malaysia as it is an exemption under S.375 of the Penal Code. However, as far as paedophilia is considered, there are no laws to govern it in Malaysia as highlighted elsewhere.

What is worse is the fact that sex with a minor is even legalised and halal under specific circumstances. There have been many cases of such things and many precedents where marriage with a girl under 16 is allowed with the permission of a Syariah Court under S.8 of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act:

No marriage may be solemnized under this Act where either the man is under the age of eighteen or the woman is under the age of sixteen except where the Syariah Judge has granted his permission in writing in certain circumstances.

Keep in mind that this is very different from the concept of a minor entering into a marriage contract, which is also allowed under civil law. This is a child entering into a actual marriage in both fact and law.

Now, if you read this section with S.375 of the Penal Code, we come to the inexplicable conclusion that having sex with a minor is allowed in Malaysia as long as one is legally married under Syariah Law. While having sex with a minor is statutory rape under S.375(f) of the Penal Code, marital rape is an exception under the same law.

This is a worrying trend as has been pointed out recently that child marriages are on the rise in Malaysia:

In 2012, there were around 1,165 applications for marriage in which one party, usually the bride, is younger than the legal marrying age. The Syariah Courts approved 1,022 of them. This is an increase from the 2011 record, when some 900 marriages involving at least one Muslim minor were approved.

Therefore, it is hard to criminalise paedophilia, as generally understood, in Malaysia when there is legal recourse to engage in paedophilia. I am not going to go into the effects that child marriages and/or paedophilia have on our society as I’m sure that there are others far more qualified to discuss it. I’m just pointing out legal facts as it stands in Malaysia.

So, it is no wonder that the authorities are nonchalant about Nur Fitri’s crimes as they probably do not consider it as much of a crime at all, like truancy. If he had engaged in such proclivities in Malaysia, he would not be considered a criminal at all. If he took a child bride, then it would not only be legal, it would be halal too.

Such is the state of our law.

Marital Rape in Malaysia

This has been a hot topic of discussion for the last couple of weeks, ever since this AWAM campaign video on rape became a sensation online. If you have not seen it yet, I would recommend that you watch it now.

The video depicts several scenarios of rape – underaged, drunk, marital, conventional. However, the only issue that became a contention in the Malaysian public sphere is the issue of marital rape. Many have weighed in on the issue on both sides with some defending marital rape as it is apparently condoned under Islam.

I was honestly taken aback when I read about the camel scenario, an opinion given by the Perak Mufti.

Even the Prophet says even when they’re riding on the back of the camel, when the husband asks her, she must give.

I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that they were able to do it on camel back. I wonder what position that took and whether that camel was moving or stationary.

But anyway, I’m not trying to rehash the discussion on marital rape from the Islamic standpoint. Seeing that this is a quasi-legal blog, I intend to point out that under S.375 of the Penal Code, which covers rape, all the above scenarios are addressed. However, marital rape is addressed as an exception under S.375:

Exception—Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife by a marriage which is valid under any written law for the time being in force, or is recognized in Malaysia as valid, is not rape.

Now, say what you want about it but marital rape is not recognised under Malaysian Law. Therefore, husbands are legally allowed to rape their wives as much as they want and there is no legal recourse for the wife. However, if the husband does cause any other form of bodily harm towards her in the process, she may still find redress under the Law, just not as rape.

I think that it’s a good idea to start discussing this issue because it is high time that we reformed our Law to reflect the realities of the day and that wives are no longer chattel owned by their husbands, as in the past. However, what I think a lot of the activists types are missing is that this is not a gender issue.

If the activists choose to champion it as a gender issue, they will lose. As one of my law lecturers once mentioned, nobody cares about womens’ issues in this country. I wouldn’t support their cause if they were to treat it as a gender issue simply because it would be hypocritical to do so.

Rape is not a gender issue. Rape is a human rights violation.

Since it is a human rights issue, then let’s not stop with marital rape. If you look at the wording of S.375 of the Penal Code, you will find that it also does not cover male rape either. Apparently, in Malaysia, only men are capable of committing rape and no woman is capable of doing so.

A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the following descriptions:

So, it would seem that our laws on rape are severely behind the times and we need to amend it to reflect the realities of the day. Rape is a crime like any other crime. It is capable of being committed by members of any gender on members of any gender. It is also capable of being committed within the confines of a home as easily as it is outside.

Therefore, it is high time that we amend our laws to recognise all kinds of rape, not just the narrow definition of  marital rape in the context of a husband raping his wife.