Umno Lawmaker Under Fire for Saying Denying Husbands Sex is Abuse

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Setiu MP Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh drew flak from civil society groups for saying that it was “emotional and psychological” abuse if wives deny their husbands sex.

On Monday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim told Parliament that more than 4,000 men were spousal abuse victims.

Today, when debating the Domestic Violence Act (Amendments) 2017 Bill, Che Mohamad said that it was “emotional and psychological” abuse if wives refuse sex with their husbands, humiliate their husbands or were verbally abusive.

“Even though men are said to be physically stronger than women, there are cases where wives hurt or abuse their husbands in an extreme manner.

“Usually, it involves wives cursing their husbands – this is emotional abuse. They insult their husbands and refuse his sexual needs.

“All these are types of psychological and emotional abuse,” Che Mohamad said.

The 58-year-old Umno lawmaker also said another form of abuse was when a Muslim man was denied permission to marry another woman by his first wife or other wives.

“Some want to marry more than one but need to get permission from their wives, who disagree and begin nagging,” Che Mohamad said.

Women’s rights activist Marina Mahathir said the lawmaker’s view was “based on ignorance”, FMT news portal reported.

“Women have a right to say no to sex – this is an old notion that when you marry a women you own her body. It does not work that way. It is ridiculous to say men are abused if women say no to sex,” she told AFP.

“We must not trivialise abuse, and we must also respect women’s rights over their body. Husbands and wives must obtain consent from each other when having sex. Consent must be freely given and cannot be coerced,” said Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Communications Officer Tan Heang-Lee, The Star reported.

Sisters In Islam (SIS) said Che Mohamad’s remark in Parliament yesterday had “gravely undermined” the severity of domestic abuse cases in the country.

“The injury and harm experienced by domestic violence survivors should never be trivialised in this manner.

“Marriage is an institution bonded by a union of love and mutual respect and within that boundaries, conjugal rights between spouses should be exercised with love and respect,” SIS told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) president Mariam Lim said women are accused of being the guilty party in most cases, but there was little effort to empathise with them.

“WCC has always believed and recognised what we call marital rape. That means if a woman for whatever reason doesn’t want to and she is forced, that is rape,” Lim said. 

Choo Choy May/Malay Mail Online

When contacted by Malay Mail Online, former Shariah Court judge and ex-Terengganu mufti Datuk Ismail Yahya had only one word to respond to Che Mohamad’s statement: “Nonsense”.

However, the Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (Perkim) supports what Che Mohamad said.

“Of course, this depends on a case-by-case basis. But YB (Che Mohamad) was speaking in general, and in general what is he said is true. We agree but it depends on what is happening and to what extent.

“On the issue of asking the first wife’s permission to marry again, it is not abuse but purely matters concerning polygamy,” said Perkim public relations officer Datuk Abdul Hanif Harun, according to The Star.