Rape under a fundamentalist regime

 

The Islamist movement''s "justice" and "liberation" excludes women, who are indeed explicitly discriminated against! A few examples from the Islamic Republic may help.

In the courts evidence of female witnesses is inadmissible unless accompanied by that of a male witness. Even then, the value of a female witness is half that by the male (Article 33 and 99 of the Law of Retribution: Hodoud and Ghesas, Section 2 of Article 237)

The diyeh (blood money) for a Muslim woman in cases of manslaughter and murder is half that of a Muslim man. (Article 300,  Law of Retribution). If a male Muslim intentionally kills a Muslim women, he is subject to retribution (an eye for an eye) but only if the guardian of the murdered woman pays him half of the diyeh to the murderer to make up the deficiency (Article 6 of Diyat, Article 209 Law of Retribution). The blood money payable to the murderer amounts to 50 camels or 100 cows or the equivalent (Article 3, Diyat).

A husband can kill his adulterous wife without punishment while a woman is punishable by death for a similar crime.

 

Before the law, women are not a compete person their testimony is only half that of a man. These absurd efforts to place arbitrary and discriminatory values on women has serious repercussions on how women are thought of and treated by society.

Extramarital sex is prohibited under Islamic law. To this extent Islam recognises rape as a crime. However rape taking place within the home and prisons is not considered rape and is therefore legal. It is this situation which I wish to address.

 

Upkeep for submission

The Koran (Nesa, 34:34) ascribes to men dominance over, but also responsibility for the women under their care. Women have to be given nafagheh (upkeep money), but in return must submit to their husband's will. If a woman disobeys her husband's will, he is instructed to separate their bed and to talk with his wife. If she continues to thwart his desires, he should hit her. The moment she stops disobeying, the punishment and sanctions for misbehaviour should stop. The Koran thus tells a man to respect his wife's rights, while also instructing him to abuse her.

Moreover women are sex objects. A man is permitted four "ordinary" wives and as many "temporary wives" (concubines) as he wishes. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim (Article 1059 of the Civil Law) but a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim . Together these laws create a permissive environment for legal rape.

 

n I came across Simin in 1979. She was 19 years old and had been pursuing her divorce case through courts for the last four years. One day on returning from school  her father told Simin point blank she had to marry a certain man. Simin, being only 15, had no intention of marrying. She was also in love with another man. Simin refused and her father firmly insisted. She ran away three times, hiding with relatives, yet her father found her and forced her to marry. Simin kept running away from her "husband". She could not stand living and sleeping with him and he hit her and raped her.

When I met her she was exhausted and despirited. Her family tried to help her get a divorce but the law did not permit it. The man followed her on the street and beat her. During the anarchy of the revolutionary days we formed a group to help Simin and in this way she was able to regain her freedom.

 

A man divorces his wife on any pretext (Article 1133, Civil Law). Women, on the other hand, can obtain divorce only under extreme circumstances: if the man is mentally ill, or impotent (Articles 1121 and 1122). Given that women cannot chose their partners and that once married it is near impossible to get divorced, this is clearly legal rape.

 

The age of marriage has been reduced for women from 18 to 9. All the harsh punishments prescribed under Islamic law are applicable to a 9-year old girl, whereas a 14 year old boy is still regarded underage and will not be subjected to such punishment until he is 15 (Paragraph 2, Article 1210, Civil Law). Furthermore, with the permission of the guardian (father or grandfather) and provided it is in the "best interest" of the ward, a girl can be married to a man even when she has not reached the age of consent, or indeed even when she is a baby girl (Article 1041 of Civil Law). This is legal child rape.

 

Religious rape

According to Islamic lay the killing of a virgin woman is prohibited. This reflects the objectification of women. In prison, if a virgin woman is to be executed, she is first "married" (raped) by one of the guards before execution. Afterwards the guard goes to the woman's family and declares that she is their son-in-law. It is totally distinct from the process of obtaining confession or to humiliate the prisoner. The prison guards are simply obeying Islamic law.

Nadereh was educated in France and had been in touch with opposition groups against the Shah. On the eve of the revolution she returned to Iran to take part in the anti-dictatorial movement against the Shah. For Naderh, like other Iranian intellectuals, it was vital to be present in this decisive historic struggle. During the revolution she worked for a socialist organisation.

She was arrested three years after the revolution. Although others with her alleged crime normally received a few years imprisonment, she was executed after a few month in prison. That was our first shock.

We discovered the reason later. In prison her interrogator took a fancy to her. She had more than once complained of her interrogator's advances towads her. When her case went to court, which consisted of one mullah as judge and no jury, the interrogator accused Nadereh of attempting to escape during her interrogation. The mullah accepted this obviously false charge and sentenced her to death. Both the mullah as the interrogator knew full well that this also gave the interrogator permission to rape Nadereh. The interrogator got what he wanted and fulfilled his religious duty in the bargain. Thousands of young women were executed in Iranian prisons (1), most of them were raped under Islamic law.

Shukuh Jalalie

 

1. A list of 1,400 has been collected and published by Iranian Political Prisoners Action Committee. Some were pregnant, many were under 17.