KUALA LUMPUR: Setiu MP Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh, has been lambasted over his remarks equating wives withholding sex from their husbands as emotional and psychological abuse.
The statement, which he made in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, has been heavily criticised by his fellow women MPs, women groups and netizens who took to cyberspace to denounce him as sexist.
“We must not trivialise abuse, and we must also respect women’s rights over their body,” said Women’s Aid Organisation communication officer Tan Heang-Lee.
Sex between a husband and wife, Tan said, must be consensual and should not be coerced.
Kasthuri Patto (DAP-Batu Kawan) said Che Mohamad’s statement equated wives to sex slaves.
“This is the kind of mentality that will lead men to be aggressive and rape wives when they are denied sex.
“Please respect your wives and share the responsibilities at home,” she said.
Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Kulai) said a man should never blame his wife if he was not getting enough sex, nor should he “solve” the issue by taking another wife.
Che Mohamad when debating the Domestic Violence Act (Amendments) 2017 Bill, also claimed it was abuse when a Muslim man’s request to take another wife was denied.
“The wife could be refusing to engage in sex due to valid reasons,” Teo said, adding that men should tackle the root cause of any dissatisfaction in a marriage instead of just blaming everything on their wives.
On The Star Online’s Facebook page, many argued that abuse was when men tried to force their wives into having sex.
“If someone denies sex, it is not a psychological or emotional abuse. It becomes a psychological or emotional abuse when one is forcing the other to have sex. It is called rape,” said Kenny Chiu.
Cheam Sau Yan said the mentality that “if you are married to me then you must have sex with me” is wrong, as a wife is not a property of the husband.
Puteri Umno chief Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin however believed that Che Mohamad could have had good intentions, but was not able to express himself well.
“I think what he meant was that in Islam, it is a wife’s duty to cater to her husband’s needs, and refusing to have sex out of a whim without solid reason could be construed as a sin.
“Perhaps he should have worded his thoughts better so that people would not have misunderstood him,” she said.
Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja) said there must be strong and valid reasons for a wife to refuse sex.
“To some men it is just physical, but to women it is emotional. In Islam, you cannot just look at the physical bit but you have to look at why the wife is refusing,” she added.
Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (Perkim) however supported Che Mohamad’s statement, saying that in general his argument was correct.
“Of course this depends on case-by-case basis and the extent of the problem,” said its public relations officer Datuk Abdul Hanif Harun.