By EMA MARYA YACOB

Have you ever heard of the infamous “finger-rape” case that caused an uproar among society back in 2015? This case had courts wishing that the definition of rape in the Penal Code was reviewed. So, what can be defined as rape? According to the Malaysian Penal Code, rape happens when a man forcefully inserts his penis into a female’s private part, without obtaining her consent or with the type of consent that the law does not recognise. This narrow definition has raised several unsettling issues.

In the “finger-rape” case, Sarawakian Bunya Jalong was acquitted as there was no penile penetration since the accused used his fingers. The definition of rape in Malaysia states that there must be penetration by penis into vagina to secure a rape conviction against the sexual offender. It was reported in the accused’s defence that he allegedly impregnated the victim by inserting his semen-smeared finger. Sadly enough, the victim who was a minor then, gave birth to a child the following year, and Bunya Jalong was proven to be the father through a DNA test. This is pure injustice! The psychological and emotional trauma the victim had to go through is no less, irrespective of how the rape has taken place.

Therefore, Section 375 of the Penal Code should be amended as the definition of rape should be widened and should include any form of oral or anal penetration using objects without one’s consent. It must be understood that the brutality of the act by way of introducing sexual objects including sex toys without the consent of another can be equally traumatising to the victims.

To make matters worse, currently, the law also does not deal with rape and sexual violence against men. Rape and sexual assaults can happen to anyone regardless of the age, sexual orientation or gender. That means, it happens to men too, realistically speaking.  Upsetting as it already is, rape and sexual assaults where men are victimised by women are virtually unheard of in Malaysia, with social stigma surrounding the issue making it more difficult for the victims to come forward to seek help.

Despite facing similar psychological effects as female victims, researches shows that common misconceptions such as men always want sex so there is no need for a woman to resort to rape and it is impossible for a woman to overpower a male, make it difficult for the victims to reach out to society for proper aid and justice. The use of position, authority and power is common in these cases, as well as the use of extortion and the taking advantage of intoxicated or drugged victims.

Cases of women raping men at gunpoint, while the men were intoxicated or drugged and by using ‘psychology’ to influence the victims have been reported, with some being sentenced for the crimes.  Although no data is readily available on the situation in Malaysia, the numbers do not reflect on the actual scenario as many cases go unreported. Therefore, there is an absolute need to amend the existing rape laws to also protect men.