Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
A controversial take on sexual consent — from the president of a women's rights organisation, no less — has Malaysia's Twittersphere all riled up.
Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar, the president of International Women's Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ), wrote in a tweet on June 8: "Let's honour and protect ourselves with the right definition of consent."
Dr Rafidah, who also teaches in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, went on to add: "The only type of sexual consent which is valid is the formal consent obtained in the presence of a girl's father [or] guardian and two witnesses with the commitment to each other in a stable and loving relationship."
Seemingly a reference to nikah, or a marriage contract typically signed in the presence of an Islamic judge or religious leader, a male guardian and two witnesses, the tweet drew flak and sparked a heated debate among Malaysians on the definition of sexual consent.
One response, which received over 2,000 likes, simply said: "Even a doctor does not know the purpose of consent. Disgusting."
Many also pointed out that married or not, sexual consent should always come from the parties involved.
All Women's Action Society (AWAM), which describes itself as an "independent feminist organisation", chimed in with their own explanation of consent, writing: "A woman's right to her body is hers. And hers alone.
"If she does not give her individual consent for another to touch her body, then nobody is allowed to touch her — no matter if it is her father, her brother or her mother."
Datin Paduka Marina binti Mahathir, an activist and the daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad, also weighed in on the issue, criticising the implication that a woman's body belongs to her father.
Nevertheless, Dr Rafidah had her fair share of support from followers who said they found her statement "educational" and "valuable".
Following the furore, Dr Rafidah responded to Datin Paduka Marina in a string of tweets claiming that her original tweet about the "only type of consent" that was "valid" referred to sexual consent "within the framework of marriages" as opposed to that of extra-marital sex.
In Islam, pre-marital sex and adultery, collectively referred to as zina, is not permitted.
However, Rafidah's clarification did little to quell her detractors, who insisted that her post was "misleading" and "harmful".
Extra-marital sex and consent are two separate issues which should not be conflated, they said.