498 – the number that insults women

498 – the number that insults women

daphne-iking.pngKUALA LUMPUR – Section 498 of the Penal Code has suddenly become a much-talked about number. Before the issue concerning glamorous TV celebrity Daphne Iking made media headlines, how many people – more pertinent, how many women – knew such a law exists? Simply put, it is about men enticing, taking away or detaining with a criminal intent, another man’s wife.

In more legal language it pertains to “whoever takes or entices away any woman who is and whom he knows, or has reason to believe, to be the wife of any other man, from that man , or from any person having the care of her on behalf of that man , with intent that she may have illicit intercourse with any person, or conceals, or detains with that intent any such woman.”

The section provides for the offender to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or fined or both.

Seduced by another man

The question so far has not been why the penalty does not seem to be as harsh as the offence appears to be or why Daphne should be running into another man’s arms when she already has a husband who is “tall, financially stable and spiritually strong’. These, she had said before a talk show audience, are traits that are very important to her.

Yet, showbiz executive producer Ryan Chong, whom she married in Bali on Jan 27, 2007 after a six-month ‘intense courtship’ believes she has been seduced by another man and is dragging managing director Choy Khin Ming to court in a private prosecution under that Section 498.

The magistrate’s court has adjourned the case following the defence’s application to disqualify the trial magistrate, fixing Sept. 7 as the mention date for a progress report on the defence’s application and setting Dec 9 and 10 as trial date

Daphne has rightly earned the reputation of being a ‘media queen’, with her myriad roles as journalist, TV presenter, emcee, actress and columnist.

She is also ‘queen of the heart’ for 21-month old daughter Isobel, the child from her marriage with Ryan.

It is very interesting to know that only men who takes or entices away a married woman may be charged under this provision of the Penal Code, and not vice versa.

Women who take or entice married men will not be charged under this provision.

Ironically, some women feel this law is a blow to their intelligence since, subtlety, it denotes that women are easily enticed and so gullible as to be enticed.

And it is also construed that because of their stupidity, women need a law to ‘shelter’ them from men with dubious intentions.

This has not gone down well with the women since most of them have had an experience of their man, being taken away by other woman(en).

To quote lawyer Pushpa Ratnam: “It (section 498) is archaic and no longer has a place in society.

“It is a total affront to women to suggest that we can be so easily enticed and so stupid enough to be enticed.”

Teresa Kok: It is archaic

Malaysian Mirror talked to a some women regarding this matter, based on Daphne’s case, and quite unexpectedly, not many of them know about this provision of the Penal Code.

Most of them give the impression that they want this penal code to be stashed away; for the reason that it curbs the women’s freedom and deride her intelligence.

daphne-iking 2.pngThe sassy Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said she was surprised that this law ever existed,

“This law had been neglected and overlooked by people. I am surprise that nobody brings out this matter. This penal code is archaic.

“Personally, I don’t think that this section of the Penal Code protects women.

“It only makes it seems that when they were married, they were the ‘object’ of their husbands and does not have their own say in their personal life.

“Furthermore, this offence is hard to verify, unless you had caught the person between the sheets, otherwise there’s no proof.

“That is why I feel that this clause should be depleted or should be revised. I might bring it up to Parliament next time.”

Manjit Kaur, president of the Sikh Women’s Awareness Network commented:

“To say that Section 498 was stated to protect women was an understatement. There were many laws in our country that fares better in protecting women compared to the code.”

Manjit Kaur said that the scenario has to be clarified first. 

“The intention of this law is to protect the women but in Daphne’s case we do not know the real story. We only do not want the husband to misuse the law to his advantage.”

Patricia, 67, a former president of Mothers to Mothers (M2M), an organisation of single mothers, said the public should not make its own judgment. 

“For Daphne’s case, we do not know what transpire behind closed doors, but I am surprised to know that we have this law in our country”

‘Even the Syariah is male-oriented’

Zaidah Idris, 37, an engineer with a well-known corporate firm said that as a woman she feels this section in the Penal Code is unfair.

“This code should not only confined to women, It should include men, as well.. After all, marriage is not a one-sided contract.

“It is disheartening, being a woman. Even the Syariah is male-oriented.” 

Nur Arissa Maisarah Osman, a lecturer at a public university, disagreed to the publicity of the case, just because it concerns the personal affairs of a celebrity.

“It is actually bad publicity for Daphne. Furthermore it is a relevant prosecution that will always have a place in society, especially for the Muslims.”

A source in a woman’s movement who do not want to be identified said the particular law should be well revised.

“The law is there to protect women and not to be abused by husbands who have unscrupulous intentions,” she said.

Honeymah Dylyani in Malaysian Mirror

Related stories

Don’t ‘play play’. Enticing away a married woman is illegal

Daphne Iking – one cool dame from Sabah

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