Bill expands definition of sexual assault

BY RAM ANAND
The amendments state that penetration with body parts like the finger or tongue can be considered a sexual assault offence. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Amendments to the Penal Code have defined sexual assault as penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part, including the penis, without one's consent.

The amendments of Section 377CA of the Penal Code, which were tabled for first reading in Dewan Rakyat today, state that penetration with body parts like the finger or tongue can be considered a sexual assault offence.

The amendment of Section 377CA, which is on the “sexual connection by object”, seeks to extend application of offences to "sexual connection by using any other part of the body other than penis”.

The current Section 377CA states that a person is liable to be punished with imprisonment of between five and 30 years, as well as whipping, if he or she penetrates another person’s vagina or anus with “any object” without that person’s consent.

The amendment Bill is expected to be debated in the current parliamentary meeting which ends this Thursday. It accompanies the Child Sexual Offences Act 2017 that was tabled in Dewan Rakyat last week.

The Court of Appeal reportedly said the definition of rape should be expanded in the 2015 case of a man who was acquitted of rape over penetrating an underage girl’s vagina with his finger.

Women’s rights groups have been urging the government to expand the definition of rape under Section 375 of the Penal Code that is narrowly defined as the penetration of the penis into a woman’s vagina without her consent.