A Malaysian lawmaker came under fire Wednesday for saying that women who deny their husbands sex were subjecting them to “psychological and emotional abuse”.

Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh, a Muslim MP from the ruling coalition, said during a parliamentary debate on domestic violence that husbands often suffer emotional attacks rather than physical abuse.

“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,” said the lawmaker, a member of the United Malays National Organisation.

“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.”

Marina Mahathir, a prominent women’s rights activist, said the lawmaker’s view was “based on ignorance”.

“Women have a right to say no to sex — this is an old notion that when you marry a woman you own her body,” she told AFP. “It does not work that way. It is ridiculous to say men are abused if women say no to sex.”

The 58-year-old lawmaker, from Terengganu state in Malaysia’s Muslim heartland, also said that denying a Muslim man the chance to marry a second wife amounted to abuse.

It is legal for Muslim men in Malaysia to have many as four wives. But they must obtain permission from an Islamic, or shariah, court to marry more than one.

More than 60 percent of Malaysia’s population of over 30 million are Muslim.

The MP made the comments Tuesday during a debate on amendments to domestic violence legislation.

It is not the first time a lawmaker has sparked controversy with comments about women — a member of Malaysia’s ruling coalition said in April that girls as young as nine were “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.

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