The issue is much bigger than being called a social problem, especially among Muslims, where religion plays a more important role in all matters.
RAPE or sexual assault have always been tools to terrorize the opponent into submission and these have been used and applied by almost all nations during wars, or while suppressing a revolt or against people of other faith or color. The worst of it happened during Mongols invasion of Muslim lands. The same was used in Spain against Moors (Muslims) under ‘Conquista’ and against blacks in the US, and in African disputes, and during the partition of Indian subcontinent, and Indian military invasion of Hyderabad in 1948, during Bosnian crisis and now in Burma.
Though rape of women has been used as a tool in war but this practice is still widespread even during the times of peace against minorities, and tribals and villagers. There in no denial of the fact that it is the most appalling and inhuman treatment of a fellow being and must be stopped and perpetuators must be severely punished.
While it is much easier said than done, during war like situations it is almost impossible to prove.
While we hate this brutality, we are not in a position to eliminate it, but what we can eliminate is the inhuman treatment a women gets from her own family and husband. The very person who has received the most inhuman treatment is left to defend herself and has to live with a stigma all her life. How many of us will accept such girls or women in our families? Don’t we consider them as unclean and worthless and honor-less. What if she is pregnant due to the crime perpetrated by somebody else? This question is not hypothetical and can’t be brushed aside! Have our Ulema discussed it and if not, why? Can in Islam a person (be it man or women) be punished for something which is not their fault? Is it not injustice to them? If it is not injustice, nothing is!
While we hate this brutality, we are not in a position to eliminate it, but what we can eliminate is the inhuman treatment a women gets from her own family and husband.
The issue is much bigger than being called a social problem, especially among Muslims, where religion plays a more important role in all matters. It must be tackled at grassroot level involving religious scholars, teachers, parents, social workers and it must be clearly communicated that abandoning wife / daughter / sister just because she has been raped is un-Islamic and those who do it will be punished in hereafter, and laws must be enacted to punish those who abandon their wives or daughters.
We need to bring a paradigm shift in our thinking process about the women, who are raped and the society must be taught that she be respected like any other member of the family and society, and there is no shame in supporting her. Rather, supporting and respecting her is a duty of highest religious order.
We must also accept that this crime does not just happen during war like situations but can happen in peaceful normal days in a normal neighborhood or any other situation. It doesn’t matter where it happens and who does it, a woman cannot be blamed for no fault of her and needs full support of the family and society to lead a happy life.
Omer Asad is an engineer by profession and commentator with interests in faith, history and politics. He can be reached at [email protected]