Rape culture in religion

I was once caught by the university security guards for wearing a Metallica necklace. while I was in a room being questioned and accused of devil worshipping, there was a girl there, crying. She was gang raped by a group of students, and she was asking for help. The security guards being busy with my necklace and figuring out how to read it didn’t really listen to her. As I understood, she had broken up with a guy earlier and dated his friend, but when she went to his place, she found out that it was a trap set by the ex-boyfriend and his friend plus two other guys as a revenge on the break-up. They gang raped her and kicked her out of the house without any fear of prosecution. She knew them all, she knew their home address, she had evidence but she was a woman in Iran. I had heard of this revenge gang rape already. They called it ‘the trial’. It was usually a revenge for a breakup or anything else. I even heard that they would do it to girls to have revenge on their brothers or fathers. They wouldn’t hide it, or they wouldn’t run away. They were proud of doing it. After about an hour of crying, the guy who was pretending to listen to the girl stopped the girl and said “you know it’s your own fault. You shouldn’t have gone there, you shouldn’t have had a relationship outside marriage. It’s on yourself and we can’t help you” It hit me so hard. How could he say that? what was her fault exactly? Is this what Islam teaches? So how can a woman speak publicly of harassment? The society and family, they all blame the victim. Islam blames the victim. No one blames the attacker.

The answer to all the rapey behaviour and the crime of rape lies within the laws and how the governing body sees it. Since in Iran and other Muslim countries laws are based on religion, thus the reasons lies within Islam.

Nonmarital rape is a crime, but the way it is looked at is questionable. First of all, islam forces women to cover to prevent rape. The following paragraph has been taken from islamqa.info which is a website run by muslim mullahs:

“The laws of Islam came to protect women’s honour and modesty. Islam forbids women to wear clothes that are not modest and to travel without a mahram; it forbids a woman to shake hands with a non-mahram man. Islam encourages young men and women to marry early, and many other rulings which close the door to rape.”

So you can see that Islam has provided some preventive strategies… for women! For the victims! Basically it’s telling me that if women don’t follow our rules they are asking for it. This victim blaming is what I observed happening to that girl who’d been gang-raped. Victim-blaming prevents the victim from reporting the abuse, or telling their parents and friends. She will not feel safe providing that she already knows she’s going to get the blame. In another incident that happened last year in south east part of Iran about 40 girls were repeatedly raped by a gang, but they didn’t report it out of fear of their families’ reputation.

Marital rape in Quran is not really condemned but actually encouraged for unfaithful and/or disobedient women, and in severe circumstances where extensive evidence is available, it is looked at as harm and not violation of consent, while it’s both! Islam consideres that consent to sex is given at the time of marriage, so marital rape is not considered a punishable crime.

Prosecution of rapist is another problem. Some say that rape is an act of zina and punishable by hadd which ranges from stoning, or lashes for an unmarried rapist. In Al-Muwatta, 2/734 it is stated that “In our view the man who rapes a woman, whether she is a virgin or not, if she is a free woman he must pay a “dowry” like that of her peers, and if she is a slave he must pay whatever has been detracted from her value. The punishment is to be carried out on the rapist and there is no punishment for the woman who has been raped, whatever the case.” Not only this talks about slavery it sets paying a fine as the punishment.

Some consider rape as a hirrabah which says that the offender is an outlaw against public peace. The punishment is public execution. However, it is only carried out for serial killers and serial rapists. Most commonly, punishment of rape is ta‘zir which means that the punishment is at the discretion of the authorities. Now the punishments are quite clear, however, what is considered as evidence to prove that someone has commited rape?

Evidence are marks of violence about the genitals, marks of violence on the body of the victim or accused, the presence of semen or blood-stains on the body or clothes of the victim or accused, or a medical report and the funniest, testimony of four male witnesses having seen the actual penetration applies to illicit sexual relations.

Coming back to the case of the girls who were raped. The news broke out by a journalist who was later accused of spreading propaganda and is now in jail. One of the girls told his father, but the father instead of protecting his girl, went to a mullah to ask for Allah’s forgiveness believing that being raped is a sin. Mullah who’s a decent man called the journalist and a member of the parliment. However, the government silenced them and closed the case and put the journalist in jail. The rapists are walking free and the girls are scarred for life.

So, what happens to a society that blames the victims, requires 4 men witnesses who have seen the penetration, silence any news about rape and prosecutes everyone but the rapists? In this society, rape not only becomes a culture, but it becomes so normalised that sexist jokes, men poking girls’ bottoms in the streets, men claiming ownership of women, acid attacks, revenge rape, grooming gangs, men who don’t understand ‘consent’ and women who don’t know their right to refuse have become a part of day to day life.

Photo credit: unwomen.org

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