Women who deny their husbands sex are guilty of psychological and emotional abuse, according to a Malaysian lawmaker who is now under fire for the remarks.
Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh, from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, a right-wing political party, was participating in a debate about domestic violence during a parliamentary session when he made the inflammatory comments, the BBC reported.
“Even though men are said to be physically stronger than women, there are cases where wives hurt or abuse their husbands in an extreme manner,” the 58-year-old politician said, the outlet reported.
“Usually, it involves wives cursing their husbands: this is emotional abuse.
They insult their husbands and refuse his sexual needs. All these are types of psychological and emotional abuse.”
Malaysia is in the midst of trying to amend existing laws against domestic violence and activists hope new legislation will offer more protection for victims of domestic abuse.
Che’s comments drew ire from women’s rights activists, including the daughter of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, Marina Mahathir.
“This is an old notion, that when you marry a woman you own her body. It does not work that way,” she told the AFP.
“Women have a right to say no to sex. It is ridiculous to say men are abused if women say no.”
Activists took to Facebook to express their opposition to the “primal mentality” of Che’s remarks.
“Social illness and corruption are problems to tackle first. Lawmakers can be sex therapists later,” user Sharkawi Lu from Labuan island wrote, according to the BBC.
“What a joke Malaysia has become.”
“Women are not sexual tools,” wrote Gopenatan Madaven. “You need to respect and share their feelings.”