Brunei: Amendments May Provide Legal Recourse for Marital Rape Victims
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:10 PM

The Brunei Penal Code has previously prevented police from taking action in cases where women report rape by their spouse, as Section 375 of this code states that sexual intercourse with one’s wife is not rape if the woman is over 13 years of age. The Attorney General’s Chamber of Brunei has indicated that it currently has no plans to amend this section of the Penal Code; however, two new acts that have recently passed may provide some protection against sexual assault within marriage.


The Islamic Family Law Order 2010 and Married Women Act Order 2010 both define sexual assault as a form of domestic violence. The language of these orders makes clear that causing hurt to a family member or forcing them to engage in an act which results in harm are considered domestic abuse. Therefore a woman who is a victim of marital rape may be able to obtain a protection order if she can prove that she was physically or psychologically hurt as a result.


The punishment for breaching the protection order is a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or both. Compensation may also be awarded to a victim taking into account the degree of the physical and mental harm suffered.


Research indicates that marital rape has significant consequences. Women who are raped by their partners are more likely to experience multiple assaults and completed sexual attacks. In addition, marital rape victims often suffer severe psychological consequences as a result of being assaulted by someone they presumably loved and trusted.


Critics of the new orders argue that they do not go far enough in providing protection. The laws do not refer to the crime as rape, but rather as sexual intercourse, and cases prosecuted under the new orders can only be brought to the Magistrate’s Court. There is no minimum sentence set forth by the law, meaning that a spouse found guilty could receive as little as a day in jail if convicted.


Compiled from: Amiruddin and Begawan, The Brunei Times, 1 August 2010,, 17 November 2010.