Friday, February 19, 2010

Rape Victims Are Blameless

Consent. When it comes to sex this one word separates us from barbarians, and when a sexual act takes place without consent, no matter what the circumstances, it is barbaric. It is rape. By acting without consent an assailant the person in question the most basic of freedoms, the freedom over their own body.

It is therefore shocking to learn that over half the women in a recent survey carried out in the UK blame rape victims in some form or the other for being raped. Victims were accused of being too drunk or dressing scantily. This sort of thinking is absolutely wrong.

A woman who is incoherently drunk is comparable to a person who is mentally handicapped; they both lack the ability to consent to a sexual act. We would not blame a rape victim for being mentally handicapped then why do we apportion blame on a woman who passed out after being drunk? And the fact that being drunk is self inflicted does not change things, the key is that the person was not in a position to offer consent at the time the act took place.

A woman could walk around in a bikini at the truck adda in Shireen Jinnah colony and consent to a sexual act but then if she said no to that particular act, or any other act, and if said act continued it would be rape and she would be blameless.

There is no question of extenuating circumstances limiting the culpability of the perpetrator, except for him being insane; in a rape the fault lies entirely with the aggressor. However, when we apportion blame to the victim, we tacitly accept that in some situations the actions of the perpetrator are understandable, that they are somehow justifiable. They are not. Rape is unjustifiable.

But then why do a majority of people still blame rape victims? Dr Roxanne Agnew- Davies, a clinical psychologist and an expert on the effects of sexual violence, quoted in a Guardian article, says “it can be to reassure themselves that this will not happen to them.” Unfortunately this skewed logic borne out of fear hides the fact that your typical rape victim is not a scantily clad woman in Shireen Jinnah colony, the typical rape victim is likely to be a typical woman. And the assailant is likely to be someone known to the victim, in our society it is most likely a husband, a cousin, an employer or a neighbour.

The reason why we don’t hear more about rapes is not because they don’t take place but because women who are raped choose to stay silent. And who can blame them, as a society we’ve convinced ourselves that the woman who is raped is worthy of blame, that she is immoral or has a ‘bad character.’

This absurd way of thinking has to change. We can lie to ourselves and pretend that only bad people are raped, but this only makes us all more vulnerable.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

could delve into why islam's approach to rape is far superior to the notions of 'justice' that are allowed to fester in western societies...

but who am i kidding? this is a burger blog...

Anonymous said...

the west gives women freedom, justice, education, equality, etc, etc, etc. funny poll for a bunch of women with all that? eh?

elfin said...

I'll quote:
"the west gives women freedom, justice, education, equality, etc, etc, etc. funny poll for a bunch of women with all that? eh?"

@anonymous (2/19/10 12:56 PM)
Rape still exists despite so much development. And as apparent, the odd mentality of blaming the victim exists parallel to it. It is like two extreme ends.

Ahsan said...

The first two comments have to have broken some sort of record for stupidity.

Anonymous said...

@ ahsan
mere insults? you're meant to be studying for a phd - surely you can come up with something better? until then, its just an insult to the university of chicago's entrance requirements.

islamic law, if applied correctly, is far superior in providing societal harmony. western law inevitably leads to dichotomies such as the one explained above.

@elfin
the position of women in society, the instances of rape and this 'i'm to blame approach' are all intrinsically linked and do not exist in spite of each other.

western society has sexualised and consumerised women to such an extent, that many live lives in a subservience to men without even realizing it.

take for example the recent john terry (england football captain)sexual escapades and how he slept with another woman repeatedly whilst he was married. he is hero-worshipped as a demi-god and nobody actually cared about him having multiple sexual encounters with anyone really until he slept with a team-mates ex-wife.

the uproar is because of the betrayal of his team-mate (a man), not multiple betrayals of his wife.

how odd?? but that's because women don't really count for crap in western society and there are a gazillion examples of this. they are man-accessories and they know it. of course lip service is paid to their 'equality' as the west needs to proclaim its moral superiority - but superior in what?

rape convictions rates? teenage pregnancy rates? rape rates per capita? female anti-depressant prescription rates? female infertility rates (due to chasing that career that lead nowhere and now she's single, 35 and wants a kid)?

a society requires balance. islam provides that balance by setting defining a general norm: men and women are equal in deed, but not in role.

does this mean in islam you don't work or get educated as women? heck no. women do all kinds of things in islam but they maintain their modesty and know their role in society, as khadija (ra), the prophets first wife was a crazy successful businesswomen and aisha (ra) another wife was incredibly learned in islamic jurisprudence (men would learn from her).

but by selling the aura of women's equality across the board and replacing a woman's traditional role with one of 'the modern woman'- the western world is only making them more consumer goods, and less women.

and consumer goods can't help but blame themselves when things go wrong in a society of men.

Kobe said...

Great post AKS,

However, what happens when she says yes, then says no when you're about to finish?

Ummm not like that ever happened to me or anything.

On a more serious note just to respond to something:

@Anon 1254pm (who I'm guessing is also Anon312pm)

Western society may have done a lot of bad things according to you but it still doesn't require 4 Muslim males (of good character) to witness a woman being raped to convict someone of rape. I wonder if you know what these defenders of Islamic faith do to their women in Saudi Arabia. If you ever gave Saudi women the options that Western women have, I think they would jump at it. Lets see.."hmmm an abusive polygamous piece of shit husband in a country which doesnt not even recognize womens births till a while ago" or the ability to have freedom...hard choice

And great choice of historical examples of successful muslim women....I don't even want to go there.

Also, I'm better that Shaq

Kobe said...

*than

Khalid said...

'Blame the victim' mentality is evidently very common and even finds its way into judicial decisions of rape cases like this.

This mentality is not limited to rape cases. There is something called Just World Hypothesis which says that people have a strong intuition to believe that the world is a just place and people deserve what they get. This thinking probably has many benefits for a society but one major problem is that if someone suffers injustice, we tend to think that the victim must have done something to deserve this. As AKS has pointed out, the reason for this thinking probably is that is we like to believe that it cannot happen to us as we do not deserve it. By the way, the experiments on this hypothesis are very interesting but with disturbing results including that people believing in Just World Hypothesis are less likely to engage in efforts to change the society and help victims.

Apologies for being a bit nerdy. I guess I should have been more burgery on this blog.

Rahina said...

Anon 254pm (who I'm also guessing is also Anon312pm)

All your doing is advocating for a more balanced non-consumerist society with a better focus on family (something which I think most people aspire to anyway these days) and then calling it Islamic. Firstly, that same society could just as easily be secular, hindu, whatever, and secondly, by your definition, NO muslim society is Islamic, and several Non-muslim societies are relatively more islamic.

So either way, what is your point? Why do you exist?

Smci said...

Come on guys! The way people responded in the poll is more nuanced than the conclusion lets on.


I think the worst thing that could have been done is to include the word "blame" into the parlance to start with. It should be understood in the sense of degrees of precaution, which the study itself starts off with!


I don't think the relevent question assumes the perpatrator is any less innocent. It's just a judgement of how reckless the victim was.


There's part of common sense that says getting drunk and walking around half-naked in a nightclub (a venue specifically designed for hooking up) is putting you at more risk than dressing up like a nerd and hanging out at a place of worship on Friday nights.


The world isn't some utopia where ultimate freedom can be exercised without risk or unfortunate consequence.


It's human nature, not just in backward societies, but all over, to differentiate between a situation where a half drunk guy hooks up with a fully drunk chick in some nightclub and in the process of 'going back to his place' rapes her; VERSUS a woman walking home at night getting pulled into an alley, and violently beaten and raped.


The question isn't about the guilt of the assailant. Nor should it be about the "blame" lying on the victim. But it can be, in a completely non-Judicial manner, a question of the stupidity and recklessness of one party versus the other.


Both are equally victims. Both men are equally guilty. But one situation was more avoidable than the other.

-----

As to where Islam lies in all this. Our anonymous friend has an uphill battle trying to educate us on the stupidity of the Hudood Ordinances and the legal fallacy that is the 'Zina bil Jabr' innovation by simple-minded Islamists in Pakistan.

But before we get all righteous about the moral superiority of "The West" versus Saudi Arabia, we should consider facts. For instance the reason why courts in the U.S. (apparently also in the U.K.) restrict admission of character witnesses in certain cases, particularly in rape, is because for years the easiest strategy for defense lawyers was to portray the victim as a loose slut. And even though the formal ban is there, well-paid lawyers will find clever ways to get around it by asking for "impressions" obtained by the defendant.

Obviously that doesn't mean that ALL of Western law is worse or just as bad as the Wahhabi imposition of 'Shariah.' But certainly in rape cases both have a LOOONG way to go.

Brett said...

Unfortunately this skewed logic borne out of fear hides the fact that your typical rape victim is not a scantily clad woman in Shireen Jinnah colony, the typical rape victim is likely to be a typical woman. And the assailant is likely to be someone known to the victim, in our society it is most likely a husband, a cousin, an employer or a neighbour.

I still think that's part of it. Nobody likes to think about the possibility that someone close to them, someone they know (and I remember a presentation on rape from one of the help centers in my area on how something like 85-90% of the women know the rapist(s)), might do something to them.

how odd?? but that's because women don't really count for crap in western society and there are a gazillion examples of this. they are man-accessories and they know it. of course lip service is paid to their 'equality' as the west needs to proclaim its moral superiority - but superior in what?

Access to jobs, financial independence, custody rights, right to freedom of expression, and yes, a better degree of restitution for rape when they report it (and one of the things that same presentation I mentioned above emphasized for the women present was that they should). At least in the West, they don't need four male witnesses to prove a rape.

a society requires balance. islam provides that balance by setting defining a general norm: men and women are equal in deed, but not in role.

Women in western society find their own niches, independent of some 7th century religion telling them what they should and shouldn't do.

they maintain their modesty

Modesty is vastly overrated. Give me more hedonism and much less modesty and religious devoutness.

'the modern woman'- the western world is only making them more consumer goods, and less women.

No, it's actually letting them try and find a place based on their capabilities instead of binding them with arbitrary religious norms.

Naqiya said...

@non:

what a piece of work you are. please. try being a muslim woman, modestly dressed in a bazar in karachi for a day and tell me how your bs works out for you.

as a muslim woman, dressed in a freakin hijab (bohri version but whatever, modest and far from sexy) in a bazar in karachi, who has gotten her ass pinched by douches pretty much from age 9 onwards, i have only one thing to ask you: what in god's name have you been smoking???

ideals are one thing, practice is another. lets not conflate the two. and as someone else mentioned - does the 4 male witnesses or 8 female witnesses to prove rape seem like justice to you?

Smci said...

@Naqiya


I'm really sorry for that.


I still remember the ONE AND ONLY time I heard my father cuss and use the F-bomb in Urdu is when I told him my fiance had just been harassed on Tariq Road like that. He seriously wanted to murder somebody.


And it should be noted that this isn't just a problem in Pakistan. My Irani sister-in-law says it's commonplace on the streets of Tehran.


My wife's best friend studied for a few years in Cairo (she's a hijabi) and complained that it's even WORSE than Karachi in this regard.


Then again my black co-worker complained that a group of Mexican guys did something akin to this to her sister on the streets of DC.


Perhaps there's just something about sexually depraved societies I guess?

Ahsan said...

Naqiya, you've only exposed one half of this fallacy. The other half is the assumption that if you DON'T dress "modestly" you're inviting trouble. But can someone please give me evidence that going to a club wearing skimpy clothes and getting drunk increases the likelihood that you will be raped? How many rape cases actually happen under those circumstances?

Rape is not about sex. It is about power. That is why what one wears has basically nothing to do with whether one is raped.

Naqiya said...

@smci - agreed. i lived in delhi for a while, and karachi seemed tame compared to the stuff that went on there.

@ahsan - rapes in clubs do happen. esp. in bathrooms etc. but i completely agree with you. its all about power, which is why someone who has that mentality would situate himself in a club where preying on someone who has consumed a few drinks would be quite easy. its the whole correlation vs. causality thing.

takhalus said...

Rape is rape..there is no excuse and it's not forgivable under any circumstances..

have they changed the law in pakistan regarding marital rape btw?

Smci said...

"But can someone please give me evidence that going to a club wearing skimpy clothes and getting drunk increases the likelihood that you will be raped? How many rape cases actually happen under those circumstances?"


Ahsan, you don't have to go far to find the statistics you're requesting. Just read page 4 of the study that AKS cites in his post.


9 of the 21 circumstances of vulnerability (many are obviously repeated) can somehow be linked back to the happenings in nightclubs and bars.


It's an issue of perponderence and risk.


I'm assuming we all agree that "Opinion Matters" and "The Havens" know what they're talking about since this is their business.


And if their polling also includes questions of risk, one can assume that it's implied that drunkeness contributes atleast a little bit to vulnerability. Just as it does to car accidents.


Likewise with the argument for environmental factors. It's not the 'skimpy' clothing in-and-of-itself (for "beach rapes" aren't really a problem). What IS a problem are venues associated with frivolous behaviour that are easier than other places for perpetrators to victimize women.


Does that mean we should limit our daughters' liberties? No. But we should teach them to be sensible and have an appreciation for risk. And pray that this is enough to keep them safe, but as Naqiya mentioned previously, it often isn't.


And I agree totally that rape is about power. But that's not the ONLY thing it's about. Sometimes it can be about sexual satisfaction. Sometimes it can be about revenge. In all cases it involves overpowering your victim, obviously.

@ takhalus

No one here has yet stated that there should be "degrees of guilt" for perpetrators of rape. Not a single question in the study AKS cites in the article asked whether people thought one rapist was less guilty than another rapist. In fact all of the questions are designed around the victim. So I'm not really sure where this aura of assuming that anyone who tries to delve into causes of rape is an apologist for criminals, is coming from.

You're right, rape is rape. Now let's try to protect people from it the best we can.

shelikestoscreamandroad said...

AKS. I want to literally kiss your hands in gratitude.

I once had to stop at a khoka to get a pack of cigarettes. While I was standing at the shop, there were these guys standing close-by. They did their "bismillah" by some lame catcall which I ignored. After that they followed me to the khoka, and shouldered me. I stepped away... ignoring them once again.. and that was considered an invite because once i was heading back to my car one of them came from the back and tried to finger me. I turned around and screamed. This place was rather croweded. I stamped my foot, cussed at them. Noone stepped forward or stand up for me. I got back in my car. I was really upset, and I still remember that after driving a little distance i had to stop my car again. My legs were shaking so much that i couldnt keep the accelerator down.

when i got to work, a team member came up to me and asked me why i looked so upset. I narrated the whole thing. and his reply to that was:"zahiri see baat hai, jub sunglasses or jeans pehan ker tum aik khokay per utro gee tu aur kia hoga?"...Everyone said the same thing, in one way or another ..

I know that this incidence is not even close to what rape victims on an average go through but for me this was traumnatizing. On an average, in our "muslim" society a simple thing like wearing sunglasses could mean you are attracting trouble. People will blame you for your attire.

Ali said...

@ previous comment

you are not to blame and every bit of that behaviour is unforgivable.

I'd just like to add, in an ideal world a women's personal space and rights should be respected.

However, unfortunately, this is the society you live in. Like everything else in this world, the general public (not just men) will take time getting accustomed to women wearing jeans and such.

In the meantime, you endure, and keep your chin up. And stay safe.

Just like we have to endure the zardaris and nawaz sharifs in order to one day get the true incremental fruits of democracy.

Jaydev said...

@shelikestoscreamandroad
Very sorry to hear that..depressing..
In yemen I heard recently ~98% of women are sexually harrassed despite complete niqab. So, clothing provocation is completely out of the way.
@Ashan
Rape is about sex. it about power
Its like homosexuality is not about sex..its a different fetish by humiliating women..
Rape is not about sex is not true.Yes there is a "power" aspect to deprive empowered women of their dignity..who seem "defiant,independent,free-spirited"
etc..reflecting the inferiority complex of the guys in question.
There are ppl with rape fantasies..but are respectful with women and play out fantasies in a consensual scripted way..than taking plots of Grand Theft Auto and reenacting them on streets..
Ultimately, it comes down to lack of gender sensitisation. In India, boys and girls are segregated from kindergarten ownwards..this creates a lack of awareness about feelings of opposite sex..and misread body language..etc and girls are taught horror stories about libido of boys..
So I would say a gender sensitization education would do wonders..especially stopping gender segregation..from childhood..

Asfandyar said...

Well I was going to come in and look for a cheap laugh with the "cause they dress sexy innit" thing, but all the serious (and ridiculously mongish) talk :|

@Jaydev
Rape is about sex. it about power
Its like homosexuality is not about sex..its a different fetish by humiliating women..


I don't understand that comment about homosexuality. Could you elaborate please?


I won't comment on anon talking about Islam's approach to rape and all, because anything I could've possibly said has been said.

wait, except to add that the john terry example is pathetic. He isn't revered as a demi-god, just like Ashley Cole (aka Cashley) because he too cheated on his wife. The reason why you don't hear more about Terry's wife is because she isn't a media slag whose decided to sell her story to the tabloids.

Fatima said...

I'd like to point out that the discussion has centred around rape as a crime committed solely against women which is untrue. Male rape is less common but even less likely to be reported. According to the US-based Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

And, of course, the discussion so far has been associated with consent and, hence, has not really acknowledged the rape of children who make up a significant percentage of victims.

takhalus said...

An interesting analogy(not a perfect one though, as i felt there was no equivalence) was made by a friend: If someone gets their house robbed, people don't blame the victim and again you can get robbed regardless of the level of security you employ.

On a side note, there is a direct correlation between alcohol, drugs and violence ..both sexual and physical.

anoop said...

Jaydev,

"In India, boys and girls are segregated from kindergarten ownwards..this creates a lack of awareness about feelings of opposite sex..and misread body language..etc and girls are taught horror stories about libido of boys.."

--Hey this is not true. Atleast in Bangalore,where I come from. Almost 95% of schools are non-segregated. The old Christian Missionary schools do still have segregated campuses.

There are bad people here like everywhere but things are pretty OK here.

I hear Delhi is very unsafe for women. Its the oddest thing. Delhi has all the riches and good Human Indicators but that doesn't prevent it from being the Rape Capital of India.

I think South of India is better at these things than the north. Come to think of it North India has the worst possible attitude towards women,very cliched and non-modernist. But, the rest of India is far better, I think. Especially places like Mumbai Women enjoy all the rights enjoyed by men.

Bangalore is a safe city for women and Bangalore is known for its Pub culture and I've not heard of any Club-related incident. May be its the general attitude of people here.

But, yeah.. Education and social awareness programs can decrease this phenomena.

One last thing. What do you guys say about legalizing prostitution? I have not thought about in gr8 detail but dont you think sexually frustrated guys can satisfy themselves. Just a thought..

Zh. said...

rape is inexcusable. endofstory.

on other news:
-http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/16/AR2008081602063.html
and-http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29083688/

enjoy, anon.

Zh. said...

*in

Jaydev said...

@Asfandyar
Ok..I think the sentence I wrote completely misrepresent what I tried to convey :-(..sorry about that..bad screwed up analogy..
The analogy I tried was rape is as much not about sex..as much as homosexuality is not about sex.. (plz dont misundrstand..was not trying 2 equate LGBT 2 anything bad..I am totally pro-LGBT)


All I was saying is there is indeed an obvious correlation btw Rape and Sex..i.e.Cannot just bracket to sadistic violence, serial killer psycho types..

In vulnerable,paternal,macho & conservative societies(US&Europe included)..Men with aggressive (non-consensual)sexual fantasies & misogynistic inclinations take their chances..since there is huge threshold for women to go public with it..

Jaydev said...

@anoop
I gotta give it to you..on Bangalore. Totally cool place to be..Havent went there yet.. Everybody I know including my parents have been to Bangalore..(Its totally a Legend)
Yes Delhi and Kerala are No Go for Women..I am coming from Kerala..
(and Kerala which was previously a strong matriarchal society..now its totally upside down)..Even with 100% literacy..misogyny is freaking unbelievable..the movies,common narratives all promote misogyny and derisive of empowered women.Men in Kerala are totally feel threatened by women.

anoop said...

@Jaydev,

I know! Kerala is strange place for me. It is the 1st state to achieve 100% literacy but the policies of its previous govts is largely anti-industry. I always thought apart from economics Kerala had no problems at all. Interesting to know your line of thought.

Beautiful place though.

Hope Malyalis put an end to the anti-Industry policies of the Left Govt. Kerala could have done great things if it weren't for them. Love Kerala, man..

F-Machine said...

For everybody's knowledge I'd like to clarify the Islamic law that requires four witnesses to an act of rape.

The four witnesses condition is necessary only for the MAXIMUM punishment for rape under Islamic law (death). If four witnesses were not present to witness the act of rape, it does NOT mean that the perpetrator gets off scot-free. The state can use any other evidence in order to support the prosecution and this includes DNA tests and whatever else that they use to prove rape cases. In this case, the Hudood conditions are not satisfied and the Hudood punishment cannot be handed out but a relatively minor punishment (imprisonment, fine) will be given.

Similarly, the Islamic punishment for all theft is NOT cutting off the hands. There are strict conditions around this as well. The punishment CANNOT be handed out for:

a) Theft of food
b) Theft of an unguarded property (servant stealing a painting for example)
c) If two witnesses do not testify to having been present when the theft was committed.

There are some other conditions which I can't remember at the moment.

The point here is that in order for the Hudood punishments to be exercised under Islamic law, there are very strict conditions that have to be met. These conditions in most cases are almost impossible to satisfy (four witnesses to a rape) and are meant as a deterrent only.

My humble advice is not to make judgements on Islamic law based on Zia-ul-Haq hate mail or what you read in NFP's column or what you saw on CNN. Do your own research and appreciate the context in which commandments were revealed.

F-Machine said...

Actually, the same knowledge can be had from the Hudud wikipedia page...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudud

"However, while these standards of proof made hudud punishments very difficult to apply in practice, an offender could still be sentenced to corporal punishment at the discretion of the judge (see tazir), if he or she was found guilty but the standards of proof required for hudud punishments could not be met."

Anonymous said...

nice to see such furore over my comments over the weekend...

as F-machine above indicated and which all of your posts clearly demonstrated is that despite being muslim by name you people know jackshit about islam's basic principles let alone the intricacies of fiqh and islamic jurisprudence or the hudood laws.

@naqiya and others
firstly - do you think if islamic law was actually being implemented, those men would get away with what they do so easily? you think islam protects those men or do you think under true islamic law they'd be punished for touching up a non-mahram women?

secondly - as with most of you lovely upper class pakistanis - blame islam when you get touched up by slimey men at home. but when you're drunk and slimey guys touch you up all night at a club in ny, to or london... it's all good!!!

tsk tsk islam is so backwards and hypocritical isn't it?

AKS said...

Thank you for all your comments, except anon.

Let me start by saying that I hadn't considered the religious angle at all nor do I wish to. The post is not an analysis of which societies / religions are better at preventing rape or at prosecuting rapists. In fact the purpose of the post was to highlight the irrelevance of the circumstances when it came to dealing with victims.

SMCI mentioned that "one can assume that it's implied that drunkeness contributes at least a little bit to vulnerability," and SMCI is absolutely right. But its entirely irrelevant to this conversation. I know SMCI isn't saying that people who are drunk deserve to be raped but that drunkeness is a risk factor.

We can take into account factors that make people more vulnerable to rape when we talk about how to prevent rape. We can also take into account factors such as poverty, social mores, etc. But all of these factors, in my opinion, have no place in how we react to a person who has been raped. Prevailing attitudes towards rape victims characterised by this fictitious statement - "well its terrible what happened to her but you know she really shouldn't have been out alone till that late" - have a very real impact on the victims reporting rape. Also, it should be noted that in Pakistan, and perhaps even India, most rape victims are unable to 'limit their risk' because they aren't acting negligently - one wouldn't consider being alone with a cousin or an uncle as risky.

Takhalus,

As per the Women's Protection Bill 2006, any sexual act undertaken by a man without a woman's consent is rape.

It seems pretty clear that rape within marriage would be a crime.

I know Islam gives husbands and wives conjugal rights over each other, and that a partner shall not refuse sex without good reason. But I think it can be argued that if a wife does withhold sex it does not give the husband a right to force himself on her but that he would have grounds, supported by Sharia, for the dissolution of the marriage.

It is important to note that the amendments to the Penal Code are gender specific and do not recognize male-rape.

Fatima,

You're right to point out that adult women are not the only rape victims. It wasn't my intention to imply that men and children do not constitute a large number of the victims. Perceptions on women rape victims are more well formed and hence I chose that group as the focus of this post.

Interestingly, within Pakistani society male-rape is so under-reported that I don't think there are any well formed views on the subject. And as mentioned above our laws don't even take male rape into consideration.

AKS said...

anon,

Since you have made assumptions regarding all of us, let me make some about you.

You're second generation ex-pat who probably grew up in England or a Gulf State. Your parents were fairly well to do (doctors perhaps) so you grew up in middle class surroundings which while comfortable precluded you from being part of 'urban Asian youff' or from forming an identity that incorporated your Pakistani heritage.

You grew up to be a smart young man, probably enrolled yourself in law school, but you always felt directionless and searched an identity. You found that in Islam.

During visits to your grandparents house in Pakistan you developed a yearning to better the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who had been betrayed by their 'liberal elite' leaders.

Imbibed with this missionary zeal you see yourself on a quest to challenge these elites and one day to bring back the true Islam.

You are heartened when we insult you because you know you've gotten to us.

The truth is we insult you because there is no point reasoning with you. You have a shallow understanding of Pakistan and its people but you think you know how to make everything better. Kind of an ex-pat Muslim neocolonialist.

Your arguments are entirely based on the underlying belief that Muslim societies are corrupt and need to revert to a more perfect time. However if I were to say that even during the time of the Prophet there were aspects of Muslim society that were despicable such as slavery you would counter that this is completely out of context as you have to judge each society by the standards of its time, without realizing the irony in that statement.

Anyway, as I mentioned in my earlier comment, my post had nothing to do with religion. But let me just say that most contemporary societies consider rape to be a most heinous crime. This is an achievement that owes much to great leaders of the past which invariably includes great religious figures including the Prophet Muhammad.

Each society must now ensure that it curbs this evil with all the resources and tools at its disposal. In Pakistan, Islamic jurisprudence and philosophy can play major role in ensuring empathy for the victim (which by the way was my original argument and which you have not touched upon at all). Similarly in Italy the Pope has a great role in using his position to promote these values.

One is not better than the other, because they don't need to be.

Ahsan said...

People, please don't respond to the anonymous troll. I say this with bitter experience: the best way to deal with these types is to ignore them.

Umair Javed said...

AKS a big *chummi* to you for the 'ex-pat Muslim neocolonialist' point...hahaha...the weirdest thing with Pakistani Muslims abroad and a growing number at home is that in the search for a cure to their rootlessness and alienation, they all end up becoming pseudo-arab mohammad bin qasim wannabes...

WE'RE SOUTH ASIANS AND WE'LL STAY SOUTH ASIAN NO MATTER HOW MANY SYEDS YOU ADD AT THE START OF YOUR NAME

Ray Lightning said...

How convenient for men to blame rape victims for rape !!

All the guys who do so should be forced to have non-consensual sex with a horny buffalo and then to be told that they were dressed in immodest clothing.

Anonymous said...

@ ahsan
honestly man. your cowardice amazes me.

'aah guy talking islam. stop stop. ignore him'.

yet again you insult university of chicago's entrance requirements.

didn't they ever tell you about critical analysis, differing opinions, debating you beliefs, other points of view, holding your own?

or were you taught to run at the sight of criticism and seek solace in the butt-kissing of your blogger friends? pathetic.

Smci said...

AKS,

Your point is well made. My wife pretty much echoed the same view over the weekend in pointing out the shortcomings of my argument.


Anon,

I've never seen a true Talib al Ilm or murid going around slamming their fellow Muslims with language like "...despite being muslim by name you people know jackshit about islam's basic principles let alone the intricacies of fiqh and islamic jurisprudence or the hudood laws."


No doubt you have a cursory knowledge of the Shariah that may give you a sense of superiority vis-a-vis most of your fellow Muslims, but knowledge of the haal of the Rightly Guided Ulema has obviously evaded you.


F-Machine (I feel strange talking Fiqh with someone using that name),


I think there are two issues here.


One is that most people do assume that shariah IS whatever the voices advocating for it SAY it is. That being the case, when far-right voices in Pakistan first clamored for the Hudood Ordinances no one realized it would result in upwards of about 4 out of every 5 women in prison being there because they can't prove their allegations of rape with 4 witnesses.


Second is the reason why those prison numbers are so high. Namely that we have quite oppressive and rather idiotic innovations in trying to interpret the shariah for application in 21st century Pakistan. Your clarification about the substance of the hadd punishment aside, we should note that that is NOT how the hudood have been applied in Pakistan. The 4 witnesses have been required for convictions, not simply during sentencing. Classic fuqaha interpreted Rape as hiraba, not zina. Rape is not adultery. It falls under the same legal category as armed robbery or brigandry. Therefore 4 witnesses during the trial phase of a rape case are irrelevent.


Furthermore you never addressed the most controversial part of the Hudood Ordinances: Qazaf. By introducing this bida' of "zina bil jabr" into the parlance of Shariah, the Islamists in Pakistan deliberately redefined Rape as "forced adultery." Thus making all of the legal barriers towards punishing two consenting adults for engaging in an illicit relationship, into impossible and undue burdens upon innocent women to bring forth four male bystanders of the act of her own rape. And God forbid she fail to do that, because then the clause of 'false accusation of adultery' against her rapist kicks in, and she goes from being a victim to being a criminal herself.


And folks like our "anonymous" friend sit back and wonder why it is that average people have such a bad taste in their mouth for 'Shariah.'


Maybe it's because the clowns advocating for the imposition of Shariah are so tyrannical in their mis-interpretations?

Umair Javed said...

@Anon: yaar bhai...You yourself said that Islamic law is not being implemented properly in Pakistan...consequentially on your logic, you're implying that if it were implemented in letter and spirit, we'd see a more just and rape-free society....

i am all for justice and rape-lessness in society....more over im particularly interested in the implementation process that you have hidden somewhere deep down in your brain...a process that would incorporate the fact that one of the most commonly reported crime in our rural areas is 'larka larki bhagaa kar lay gaya' (elopement)...*astaghfirullah*...in a society as 'uncivil' and 'immoral' such as ours...pray do tell us all how exactly do you wish to implement your back-to-the-kingdom-of-god formula that will end exploitation, power imbalances, my increasingly harsh migraine and other such relevant nuisances....

(Down with Arab Imperialism)

Anonymous (Not the neocolonialist) said...

Nothing like a discussion involving sex (consensual or otherwise) to get a good discussion going.

Also AKS, isn't it more fun to write about things people actually give a damn about as opposed to Liberia or Libyas (or some African nation America will never be interested in) law library?

Z.M said...

Hello All,

I happened to stumble upon this blog while searching for our half witted president’s guardian interview and then just kept reading on till I got to this post and after reading the comments felt I’d jump onto the bandwagon with an opinion or two. But really I think more than opinion perhaps some legal and contextual clarity would go a long way in better understanding the issue of rape in our admittedly backward society here in the land of the pure.

First off the havens study was interesting to the degree that it demonstrated that women are more apt to apportion blame to the victims on account of contributory negligent behaviour. While it is easy to locate the causes for this in women’s need to distinguish themselves from victims and denial of the possibility of them facing similar violence, we would do well to also allow the women their own consciousness and recognize that they identify certain risky behaviours as contributory for reasons known better to them. The study in fact suggests that women are less likely than men to be forgiving of a whole range of behaviours from a conversation and a drink to `other’ sexual acts. Now the modern responses to rape reform in English law have been rather idiotic about this: in the past there has been a case where judgment upheld that women have a continuing right of refusal even during the act of penetration. Any man pulled taut perched precariously on the verge of a vesuvian explosion after a month of the blue balls syndrome will tell you that any directives at that point to ‘kindly pull out’ will be met by nothing short of full burial, release and a charming smile with a ‘so sorry honey’ following soon after. My point is not to come across as a perpetually frustrated chauvinistic prick with a rape fantasy (though im sure im doing a fairly good job of portraying myself as one), but rather to put certain elements of the article into perspective.

The article makes mention of this scenario in the words:
“A woman could walk around in a bikini at the truck adda in Shireen Jinnah colony and consent to a sexual act but then if she said no to that particular act, or any other act, and if said act continued it would be rape and she would be blameless.”

The logical legal effect of such continued rights of refusal applied across the board would be that universities could kick you out during your program for no reasons after accepting you, you could send the contractors home with no pay after theyve built half the house, employers could kick out employees at will and without reason all in the name of continued rights of consent. Even if the argument were to the be made that the nature of rape is such that public policy warrants we sacrifice all rationality and consistency in the legal edifice for this one act, the logic expressed in the above excerpt means every act of sex, is an act of rape by default according to this standard.

Heres how:
If the rules are 1) consent cannot be implied and must be explicitly stated 2) consent may be revoked at anytime during the act, then the following holds true:
Man A poised cautiously at the mons veneris of Woman B asks deferentially “may I, maam”
Woman B replies “ yea yea let er rip sailor boy”
Man A enters her gracefully with stroke one, then pulls out and thrusts again with stroke 2. At this point he is guilty of rape. Why? Because he has not taken the consent of the lady and according to rule 1, consent may not be implied. Thus unless one wants the sex act to be reduced a series of a few hundred May I’s and Yes’s (unless you’re a premature ejaculator), the more sensible conception of consent should be supported lest we lose the sanctity of the beautiful act of intercourse. Moreover by this standard whether convicted or not, all of our fathers have been guilty of rape so many times that were they sentenced it would amount to more years in prison than the rockafellers have been exploiting the proletariat for.

Z.M said...

Admittedly such extreme cases are but peripheral and for the better part the reality of rape is inhumane, violent and with no possible justification, but i would take exception to the absolutist stance on consent taken in this article. The mantra of the feminist anti rape movement, “no means no” has found its still poetic, still relevant and still accurate antithesis in Byrons poetry when he wrote: “A little she strove and much repented, And whispering I will ne`er consent-consented”. There are no two doubts about certain facts when it comes to female sexual behaviour and the nebulous nature of consent is one of them.

“A woman who is incoherently drunk is comparable to a person who is mentally handicapped; they both lack the ability to consent to a sexual act. We would not blame a rape victim for being mentally handicapped then why do we apportion blame on a woman who passed out after being drunk? And the fact that being drunk is self inflicted does not change things, the key is that the person was not in a position to offer consent at the time the act took place.”

By this standard a woman incoherently drunk would never stand convicted if she downed the last three measures of a Lockes single malt and then stinking and cussing like a sailor stranded in a Karachi port, proceeded to grab a steak knife and brutally chop off the bartenders tender scrotum and contents alike dangling them in the air like a scene out of wehshee haseena while the guy bled to death. My point is not to come across as a rabid misandrous feminist with a castration fantasy (though im sure im doing a fairly good job of portraying myself as one), but rather to point out the absurd nature of this argument if its taken to its logical conclusion. If the woman cannot be deemed capable of consent, then she cannot be deemed capable of mental intent, if she cannot be deemed capable of mental intent, she can get away with anything she wants legally speaking on account of no mens rea or criminal mind. Pretty simple, nothing Socrates would lose sleep over. Kudos to the author for a very rational way of looking at the problem with the added benefit of creating a whole class of whiskey drinking coke snorting murdering bandit women with a depressed nervous system and the iq of a sack of potatoes who can serve as an appropriate reservoir of talent for organized criminals and terrorists alike. The law as it stands does not recognize this argument tracing culpability in any act done during drunkenness to the reasonably foreseeable risk associated with the act of drinking or intoxication of any sort. And that is the point being made out by the many folks interviewed. Pretty reasonable i’d say. This particular standpoint has less to do with the secular liberal- conservative muslim divide and more to do with the sensible-nonsensical divide. Also were we to apply this rule, it would reduce the number of happily performed acts of sex in the most part of the first world by about 90%. Since the preferred mode of nookie is wine drinking, candle light dinner and then the impugned act, this means that the diminished capacity of the woman to offer consent on account of the alcohol would mean the male cannot engage in intercourse with her even if she begs him to (while holding the previously referred to steak knife to his crotch, which incidentally wouldn’t count as his rape if she then forces herself on him due to the vagaries of the UK law)

Z.M said...

This all being said I do agree that the law should strive to protect women within sensible limits.

“However, when we apportion blame to the victim, we tacitly accept that in some situations the actions of the perpetrator are understandable, that they are somehow justifiable. They are not. Rape is unjustifiable.”

I would thus disagree. It appears as though within the strict definition of rape as the absence of positive consent, it is quite possible to envision both scenarios where there is a genuine misunderstanding amongst the naughty fornicators as well as a case of ‘hey she was asking for it’. I would argue that while in the former technical rape may be justifiable with a secular conception of morality and legality, the latter though not justifiable legally, may have a range of social-moral views within secular society that range from censuring the woman slightly with a minor warning all the way down to justifying the sexual act morally speaking with certain rigorous ‘fundamentalist’ interpretations of Mills harm principle. The argument for the latter should be clear by taking an example of a lady sufficiently plastered to head off to a motel with an atif aslam look alike while dressed in the bare minimum. If she then proceeds to tease him to full mast with a generous usage of lip and tongue but then subsequently deprives him of any further catering to, interpreting the harm principle we can conclude that this may result in emotional and physical harm to our young atif aslam look alike and thus is an act of immorality on her part. The point is simply to suggest that the corner stone of secular liberal humanism in its moral epithets is as much prone to abuse as religious law while this angle on rape is as much irrational and idiotic as religious law regardless of how we understand ‘religious law’.

Which brings me on to Hudood. The F-machine dude/dudette is quite right in his/her analysis of hudood and tazir and unfortunately anonymous’s judgment on the lack of knowledge of Islam appears to be quite correct (even though his tone could be judged incendiary). Smci’s response demonstrates nothing other than what has already been mentioned: that our lack of knowledge on Islam is shockingly shoddy and unfortunately this extends to the Pakistani lower courts. An interesting fact of which few are aware is that the majority of convictions and stupid applications of the qazaf and Zina laws were made by judges thoroughly untrained in Islamic law who either out of sheer ignorance or in a bid to pass the buck upwards to the higher courts so as to avoid the legal responsibility, managed to botch things up. The reasons for this are not difficult to ascertain. The judicial officers of the lower judiciary derive largely from the ICS or the bureaucracy and are trained in the british common law system rather than the Islamic law tradition. This means they are basically dummies when it comes to the proper application of these laws. Moreover absolutely zero media attention has been paid to the fact that almost all (in fact I believe it was all) such cases when taken up by the Federal Shariat Court pronounced judgments acquitting the accused women and producing other favourable decrees for the women. In fact if a close analysis of the FSC jurisprudence is carried out by serious scholarship rather than drawing room liberal intellectual foreign educated clap trap, it would reveal that they have taken novel and ground breaking decisions on subjects like prison reform, prisoners rights, double punishments, habeas etc with more progressive pronouncements then most of the western jurisprudence on the matters. One should visit the FSC website and read the recent cases.

Z.M said...

The real issue is one of our legal system being consistently held hostage to the oppressive structures of colonial law and its statist bent. Similarly a vast majority of the rigid closed interpretations of Islamic law trace their roots to the British’s embellishment and codification of the traditional Islamic law, a fact well documented both by Scott Alan Kugle as well as Ian Talbot and Alan Norrie. If the argument is that we should scrap the hudood laws because their applicability is difficult then this is a dangerous and ubiquitous fallacy that calls for naked ‘pragmatism’ an approach that will sacrifice all values and meaningful things at the altar of practical concerns. Plus if one really wanted to be practical about the repercussions of laws perhaps it would serve us well to peruse recent sociological studies showing correlates between increased acts of religious extremism and the ever growing wholesale adoption of western legal and moral imports into our cultures. Mamdani’s thesis may have parallels in many other cases of which we are as yet unaware.

If we then understand the matter from the point of view of our own religion, no more outdated than either mills, or hobbes, or aritotle or marx, the framework of analysis changes completely. The lady dressed in minis and tipsy is sinful to the extent of such acts, the man subjecting her to forceful intercourse too is likewise sinful and culpable to the extent of that act. In the case of the ongoing consent business, both the man and the woman are guilty of fornication regardless of how often she screams ‘pull it out’ after the initial act of consent. And the marital rape is not a crime beyond any hurt so caused. Similarly a distinction to be made in Islamic law: rape is not a separate category of crime but consists of several crimes on the part of the aggressor party: Zina, Hurt, Hiraba and maybe others depending on circumstances and the judges expert opinion.
All in all the matter is probably better understood and ripe for fruitful discussion and dissent, once the terms of this article are demystified which i hope this comment/harangue/diatribe/dissertation has done. Hats off to the author for a damn good blog hope to read more posts. Methinks ill reward myself after all this typing with some good old fashioned sexual intercourse every detail of which i shall video record- just in case.

Cheers =)
Z.M