My sis-in-law wrote this excellent article on an extremely important topic that I feel is often shoved under the carpet and is hardly talked about much, due to its highly delicate subject matter.
Anyway, please read and reflect, and share your thoughts in the comment box below. I thank my sis-in-law for taking the time to write this great piece, so it would be great to discuss it and elicit an intellectually stimulating dialogue on the topic.
The Plague Of Martial Rape
Marital rape is a common and unpunished crime that takes place almost every day behind the closed doors of our homes. We talk about all other sorts of rights for women but this right of saying no to forced, and non-consensual, sex in a marriage has been overlooked.
Women in East Asia and Middle East are trained to be housewives, and along with that, they are “gifted” with the notion that should never say no to their husbands. This is the eye of her culture, society and sadly her parents; the most precious gift given to her on her wedding day.
Further, creed has often been used to justify this abuse, for example one verse in the holy Quran states the following:
Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
However, this is not to say that marital rape is simply limited to Islam, for other religions are okay with this idea too. And I am mostly looking at the way Islam is used to justify the lack of women’s rights on forced sex and repeated rape by her spouse.
It appears that our religion often seems to openly put man high up as the head of household, just like you are appointing a King and granting him permission to do whatever he wishes if his kingdom goes against his will. This gives man the permission to abuse and beat his wife if she does not comply with his demands. And based on the above Quranic saying, most Muslim states have treated marital rape as the husband’s right for forced, non-consensual sex for his sexual gratification. This, as a result, gives the man the right to legally rape his wife; a crime that has no punishment in the constitution of Islamic states. Marital rape is, hence, integrated in today’s Muslim world as acceptable and is not considered a domestic violence issue.
Such horrendous acts are further supported by using hadiths to validate marital rape. For example, from the collections of Bukhari (v.7, b.62, no.81), it was stated that:
The stipulations most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women’s) private parts (i.e. the stipulations of the marriage contract).
This hadith assumes the indication that women are nothing but a mere sex object, where her intellect and beauty is not important; the single most important thing that she brings to the marriage is her vagina. Thus, sex is solely for a man’s gratification and it is his right to impose his self on his spouse whenever he wills.
Another hadith by Bukhari (72:715) states:
A woman came to Muhammad and begged her to stop her husband from beating her. Her skin was bruised so badly that it is described as being ‘greener’ than the green veil she was wearing. Muhammad did not admonish her husband, but instead ordered her to return to him and submit to his sexual desires.
The above interpretation clearly demonstrates that there is no respect or consideration for Muslim women or women in general; the request to put a stop on the husband’s beating was ignored, which paves the way to more domestic violence and forces women to confine to their homes and tolerate the abuse and suffer in silence.
Today, an example of such abuse is seen in almost in every other home in Pakistan, and incidents of marital rape are not limited to the poor and uneducated class of Pakistani society; and this is something women of all different classes and ethnic backgrounds are facing in every part of Pakistan.
A PhD research student Alviah Noor was treated for almost six months for severe vaginal infection; she was prohibited by her doctors from intercourse but her husband refused to listen and forced himself on her repeatedly. And her justification for this was that she had no choice but to submit because this was her duty. As per Dr. Ambreen Ahmad, a clinical psychologist who teaches at Lahore School of Economics, 90 percent cases of marital rape in Pakistan happens in the first two weeks of marriage. And on average, Dr. Ahmad deals with five cases every week of spousal rape.
As per the human rights report published on October 1999, estimates of the percentage of women who experience spousal abuse alone range from 70 to 90 percent. And this was brought up to the attention of Nawaz Sharif’s government, which was very quietly brushed under the carpet. Unfortunately, in Pakistan’s constitution, there is no punishment or law for marital rape; the bill of 2006 that discussed domestic violence did not touch the sensitive issue of marital rape. The complaints filed or F.I.R against the accused for marital rape is none to existence. Majority of the women in Pakistan are not aware of their rights and often take marital rape as part of their marriage contract. The self-shame of disclosing such a matter or discussing it with family and the lack of support from the family is a major reason for women being forced to take refuge in silence, and submit to the physical and physiological torture that accompanies marital rape.
Another hadith states:
If a husband calls his wife to his bed [i.e. to have sexual relation] and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning (Bukhari v.4, b.54, no.460)
Unfortunately, such hadiths has given rights to these so-called imams and mullahs to justify marital rape and forced non- consensual sex as a way to making marriage bonds stronger. And the common answer to these statements for clarification is, “It is the western culture to refuse your husband as an individual’s choice and not Islam.” They refer back to these hadiths to back up their statements, without realizing that times are rapidly changing; and that whatever was acceptable over 1400 years ago is not necessarily deemed acceptable in this day and age.
Nevertheless, marital rape is not limited to Pakistan only, for Pakistani communities in the western world are practising these hideous crimes as both their marital and religious right.
Accordingly, the key member of Britain Sharia law council, Sheikh Sayeed, of Bangladeshi origin, in his interview to The UK Independent stated that:
In Islamic Shar’ia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape.
There is a saying that I grew up hearing, which goes something like: a mother may love her child dearly but God loves His creation 70% more. And I can’t help but wonder when will all this stop or if this ever will stop? Why, as women, do we have to endure this torture? Why can’t we be looked at as a soul partner and be respected the way the male gender is in our society? Who has given the right to these mullahs, prophets and religion to degrade us, humiliate us, disrespect us and then say it is a right granted by God?
Perhaps it’s about time we started to think about these crucial issues at a much deeper level, and put an end to them once and for all.