There have innumerable cases of it, many trials and just as that many convictions. Yet rape continues not just in Singapore but across the world.
So just what constitutes rape? Legally it means the penetration of a man’s penis into a woman’s vagina without her consent. Period!
However, where a man penetrates a woman’s mouth or anus with his penis without her consent, he commits an offence known as unlawful sexual penetration according to section 376(1) of the Penal Code and announced over the website of Association of Women For Action And Research (AWARE).
But just what is consent and how it is defined is narrowed simply to a victim saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It does not take into account the conditions that cause rape such as provocative behaviour – not defined, perhaps only for want on the part of legal academics to articulate it as such – inducement to rape and other kinds of wanton conduct bearing down heavily to either indicate consent or otherwise that may just change the complexion of the crime. Such facts or factors hardly see any light of day in a court of law.
An inflexible approach to view rape amid all the aggravating factors and conditions can, and potentially cause excessively high rates of judicial travesty. Furthermore, the statute of rape as we know it in Singapore was actually the wellspring of Singapore’s British colonial masters. It came into existence in the 19th century at a time when conditions were vastly different.
Thus that loosely defined definition does an element of injustice, so to speak of.
But rape as an offence does not apply if both, man and woman, are married. It technically means one can rape his wife and not suffer the wrath of the law even if she objects to it. That is the oxymoronic interpretation of the law; whilst it is rape in one instance it is not in yet another.
Yet there may be instances of a woman consenting to sexual intercourse and then changing her mind in the midst of intercourse. Would that then be considered as rape? That too, has been quite a challenge for legal academics?
Too often than not, legal counsels for rape accused have been disallowed or even prohibited from delving into the backgrounds of their victims for nothing more than that it may cause embarrassment and shame to the victim.
But what could be worse? Embarrassment for the victim or justice for the wrongly accused?
The jury is out.