‘Raped women should keep quiet’

Published: July 9, 2011
The writer is founder of Awaz Uthey Gi, a movement to popularize alternative discourses in traditional Islamic Fiqh

The writer is founder of Awaz Uthey Gi, a movement to popularize alternative discourses in traditional Islamic Fiqh

“If a woman gets raped and she doesn’t have four witnesses, she should stay quiet.”

During a recent interview on a television channel, Munawar Hasan, the head of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), uttered these words carefully. Understand that this is not careless rhetoric spat out in the throes of anger, nor negligent musings delivered in an offhand manner. Mr Hasan spoke calmly, choosing his words carefully, making sure that he was able to articulate his position exactly the way he wanted.

Rape is a sexual assault that violates the body, heart, soul and mind of the victim. What Mr Hasan did that day violated the heart, soul and mind of the whole nation. Somewhere down the line, we have started looking to politicians as representatives of Islamic jurisprudence. There was a time when it was not permissible for everyone to just stand up and give a legal opinion on such matters.

Mufti/Justice (retd) Taqi Usmani, one of the writers of the original Hudood Ordinance, wrote that if a woman is not able to produce four witnesses to her alleged rape, she can still try and pursue a case in court. However, according to the JI chief, there is “no problem” if a woman is convicted for consensual sex or for making an accusation, and then failing to conjure four people who saw her getting raped. He himself goes on to state that it is literally impossible that there would ever actually be four witnesses unless it is done in a chauraha. It seems that the only way she can hope to get justice is if she were raped amidst a gang of at least five criminals, four of whom stood and watched, and then later turned against the perpetrator and went to court.

This means that the crime is virtually impossible to prove under evidentiary requirements. If a rape victim decides that her honour and dignity are worth avenging and that the offender must be stopped before harming other women, she risks being locked up. What she should do is to stay quiet, according to Mr Hasan. How this will eliminate rape is beyond ordinary logic since no fingers are to be pointed at those who commit rape, which in turn will send the signal to the perpetrators that there are to be no consequences for such actions.

Mufti Taqi Usmani, had himself said that a rape victim can make a case even without the presence of four witnesses. He has said that the law allows for such a crime to be proven, even if there is only one witness along with a medical examination and chemical analysis.

As if all this weren’t enough, the JI chief then went on to berate the person interviewing him, presumably for having the gall to ask such questions, and then proceeded to tell him that he should recite the Kalima again, to reaffirm his faith.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Jul 9, 2011 - 11:18PM

    Challenging the piousness of someone who knows he has legions of mindless trolls waiting to berate and protest if challenged allows the JI cheif to say what he likes, and make sure that the challenger is the one who has to prove their faith.


  • Mirza
    Jul 9, 2011 - 11:28PM

    Women in our society are told all their lives to either put-up or shut-up. JI leader did not say anything different than most Islamist rightwing elements. However, he was naïve to tell that in front of lot of people watching. It is sad to say that most women of Pakistan already follow his advice and do not report any such crimes. What else does this mullah want form the oppressed women of Pakistan?
    It is this attitude and lack of consequences that male chauvinists like him still rule the society. How hardened criminals these mullahs are to talk this non-sense in front of their own sisters and daughters? But again he was not alone; he was only representing a mindset of men like him and his party. It is shocking that there is no dharna, protest or outrage from rightwing parties like PML-N and PTI? I guess it is no big deal, we are only talking about the rapes of innocent women and like them I better shut up.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Jul 10, 2011 - 12:07AM

    Why the heck is the columnist and the seculars bashing Munawwar Hassan? Differences in opinion lie, isnt this secular bigotry? Or did hegemony only exist in the secular’s enemy, religion and the Islamists in particular?


  • Dr. Ali Ahmed
    Jul 10, 2011 - 12:22AM

    hmmm some years ago while having discussion with the scholars, i was told the 4 witnesses were required for adultery not the rape,… however the religion itself gives the room for incorporation of advancements that do not impact the basic pillars and principles of the religion, such as use of laud speakers, use of tv, internet and media for the discussions, understanding, debates and preaching of the religion… if we r to adopt the religion within its original form, them m sure we all would die, as technically we r disrespecting the Prophet PBUH, the Quran, and Allah for not obeying, instead we lie, hoard, hurt, rob, rape, drink, and probably r into everything that we were preached against and ordered not to….


  • Sonia
    Jul 10, 2011 - 12:44AM

    Looks like the JI chief- or whatever he is- is more into politics than sharia coz if he was he wud never berate ANYONE ON ANY question!!!!! he duznt even know when to recite the kalima – disgusting people!!!!


  • Amol
    Jul 10, 2011 - 1:43AM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:
    This is not about secularism, dud, it is about the right of women under islamic law. A muslim women who is being raped can’t possibly have 4 witnesses to see the ordeal being performed on the hapless woman. Most of the time she is alone and hence the criminal takes the advantage. Moreover a criminal of this nature surely has no religion. Also consider rape of minors and kids – sometimes by their uncle, cousin or freinds of their families- how can they get hold of four witnesses. It is a matter of human understanding and not a matter of any religious bigotry.


  • farhan
    Jul 10, 2011 - 2:07AM

    good point of view but if a victim stays quiet the % of rape in this country will go High,its better to somehow change the 4 witness rule.


  • MKD
    Jul 10, 2011 - 2:15AM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani

    Seculars are bashing Munawwar Hassan only to discourage potential rapists to ensure that he doesn’t find himself in a situation where he regret his opinion on rape. I hope you understand what I am hinting at.


  • Xam Xaffa
    Jul 10, 2011 - 2:23AM

    O. M. G.


  • Moiz
    Jul 10, 2011 - 4:09AM

    @Abdur Rehman Gilani so according to you, it is not wrong to tell raped women to abstain from seeking justice.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jul 10, 2011 - 5:20AM

    @ Abdul Rehman Gilani. If you believe that a woman should remain quiet after she has been raped then you are just as ignorant and bigoted as Munawwar Hassan. Your religious beliefs don’t get you special privileges to abuse anyone – especially women.


  • Arafat Mazhar
    Jul 10, 2011 - 7:50AM

    Abdul Rehman Gilani: I am not a secular, i don’t believe in the separate of state and religion, i am not bashing munawwar hassan for having an opinion. I am criticizing him for 1) incorrectly interpreting the pakistani hudood ordinance 2) arrogating to himself a position that only God has – i.e. the knowledge of absolute truth in matters of fiq in a perspective that isn’t shared by anyone 3) pretending to be an islamic jurist when he isn’t one 4) not having the decency to listen to another person’s opinion without issuing a fatwa against him

    very khariji of him, don’t you think?


    Jul 10, 2011 - 10:47AM

    Its extremely unfortunate that such unjust laws are in place in Pakistan which gives the licence to rapists to commit rape without any fear of law.Shame on the lawmakers and the apologists who support it indirectly.


  • Sharif Lone
    Jul 10, 2011 - 11:58AM

    The number of women who report to authorities is probably less than 1 in a thousand. Most of them ‘keep quiet’. But for different reasons: A raped woman is looked down in Pakistani society. Her family looks down on her and the chances of her getting married sink to very low levels.
    But there is another reason. Producing four witnesses is not decent requirement. First because a man cannot perform in bed if he is being watched and secondly if the four just watch the act and do not interfere to stop the rape, they are not ‘honorable’ witnesses, they are party to the crime and need to be tried for helping the rapists and should be put behind bars for comicality. A friend told me once that the best place to rape is pakistan, and some other Islamic countries. That is one country where the accused offender has a free go, as the women become accused for not producing four witnesses. After all an idiot knows that that is an impossibility.


  • Sharif Lone
    Jul 10, 2011 - 12:07PM

    I read this piece about women in Islam, by one Mr. Raja. Must read


  • Disco Molvi
    Jul 10, 2011 - 12:30PM

    I think Munawar Hassan, his followers and apologists are putting their own female family members in danger by saying and supporting such stupid stuff, if you know what I mean.


  • Jul 10, 2011 - 1:14PM

    Forensics can prove a woman has been murdered and raped before there. Once she is dead she does not need 4 witnesses – the doctor can perform an autopsy and can tell exactly what had happened prior to her murder. Is there any requirement that a woman who has been shot dead – or strangled requires 4 witnesses?


  • Zahid Qureshi
    Jul 10, 2011 - 2:26PM

    Tribune Moderator should delete the comments of “Disco Molvi” these remarks are indecent and I wonder what he would say if someone says the same for his own family


  • Uzair
    Jul 10, 2011 - 2:46PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:
    Take a chill pill man, it is not about secular versus religious (bigots), but about basic common sense. Don’t tell me you keep quite if someone says idiotic things which you KNOW are not only false but also dangerous to decent people.
    What the foolish “amir” of the JI is saying is that rape is something that should not be punished, and the victims had better keep quiet. By defending him, you seem to be putting yourself in the same camp of religious idiocy. Start thinking man instead of parroting what you have been taught.


  • Mk Lodhi
    Jul 10, 2011 - 3:43PM

    According to my opinion it is not possible to present four witness against rape , so best thing is to do DNA test and other chemical examinations, that are pursued in western countries.


  • naeem sadiq
    Jul 10, 2011 - 3:52PM

    That was brilliantly put. People of Pakistan must know the archaic and convoluted thinking of their leaders.


  • Qasim Khan
    Jul 10, 2011 - 3:57PM

    @Mk Lodhi
    You are contradicted Hadith this is not allowed. DNA should not be allowed.


  • Jul 10, 2011 - 6:33PM

    It seems ‘Seculars’ are therefore more ‘Islamic’ and keeping in line with a Muslims honour that these ‘Politico-Religious Mullahs’

    May we have The Islamic Secular Republic of Non-Mullahs – Pakistan soon Inshallah’


  • Jul 10, 2011 - 7:10PM

    It’s unfortunate that Express tribune had to edit (if it can be called that) the article and chop off a major portion off of it. Kindly, visit the following URL to view the “original article”:

    Team Awaz Uthay Gi.


  • Sanjith Menon
    Jul 10, 2011 - 10:01PM

    Muslims have always behaved better than the Islam, preached by their Mullahs. That means its not Islam thats wrong but their [preachers. In olden times in our Deccan society these old geezers were tolerated and laughed upon, for their unworldly talks. “chalo Qazi jo kha ha so kha ha, jeena to Hume hai” forget what the Qazi said, we got to live our lives practically. used to be the refrain.
    Hyderabad is a City in South India, and the safest city for any girl in working in South India, thanks to Muslims that helped shape its culture.


  • Uza Syed
    Jul 11, 2011 - 2:47AM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani: Is this called bashing? Thismullah Munawar Hassan be given taste of the ‘same’ medicine he is trying to defend and advising not to even complaint about — I’d love to see him keeping quiet after tasting the good taste of that and keeping silent. Recommend

  • Jul 11, 2011 - 6:13AM

    Laws need to be changed to protect women


  • Disco Molvi
    Jul 11, 2011 - 2:19PM

    @Zahid Qureshi:

    Tribune Moderator should delete the
    comments of “Disco Molvi” these
    remarks are indecent and I wonder what
    he would say if someone says the same
    for his own family


    I would say: “I’m not the one who’s for allowing the rapists to walk free from their crimes and for women to shut themselves up in case if they’re raped, it’s Munawar Hassan who’s saying it.”
    Strange you find my comment to be ‘indecent’, yet you don’t condemn the Ameer e Jamaat Islami’s rape advocacy. Perhaps you his remarks decent.


  • Disco Molvi
    Jul 11, 2011 - 7:19PM

    Perhaps you *find his remarks decent


  • Azhar
    Jul 11, 2011 - 8:57PM

    what chief said was under sharia law, i can challenge there is no source which can refute these words, and em ashamed of this law


  • molvi
    Jul 15, 2011 - 6:36PM

    I’m told, as I do believe, Islam is a beautiful religion because it stands for ‘haq’ so where is the haq displayed in the following:-
    Amira, who is on board a plane with her family, flying low and due to a cyclone crashes. All the passengers die with the only sole survivor Amira. (Amira did not intend to be on her own). A lone man happens to be on the spot and he rapes Amira. When rescue teams and police reach the crash site, Amirca tells them all that which passed. The police instead of pursuing the rapist who happens to be in the vicinity, charges Amira for “adultery” and lets the rapist go free.
    The law which charges the victim is a fake law, introduced by General Zia and his Najdi brethren. They would stop at nothing to tarnish the image of Islam, as part of their association with the Globalist to realize the “clash of civilizations”. The globalist media could not have succeeded in blackening the name of Islam without these folks following a certain pattern as if it were a script.


  • Salman Arshad
    Jul 16, 2011 - 1:07AM

    Why is everyone going against Munawar Hassan?
    The Quran is very clear that 4 witnesses are required to establish zina.
    Only after zina is established, it can be judged if it was “bil jabar” or with consent. In case of “bil jabar” (rape), the woman is FORGIVEN by Allah(according to the Quran). And only the man is then to be punished.
    Everyone please read the Quran and then comment. There is no concept of “rape” in Islam in the modern sense of the world. Nor is it a separate crime. It is Zina, just like what Zina is. If proven that it was forced, the woman is forgiven.


  • AMQ
    Jul 16, 2011 - 10:51AM

    @Salman Arshad
    I think there is also a concept of Ijma and Qiyas which means that any advancements can be accepted into the spectre of Islam as long as there is no violation of any basic principle of Islam. Many things in Islam are guidance and not the limits. I dont know why people take them as such. The requirements for the witnesses to be considered can not be fulfilled by 99.9% of the people today which means that so many of the crimes will go unreported. I doubt Islam, being the religion that advocates justice would actually stand for that!


    Jul 16, 2011 - 11:52AM

    I have following comments;
    1- Is any one 100 percent sure that JI chief actually said exactly like this and he meant it exactly the way columnist portrays. More often than not, Columnists either intentionally or un-intentionally does not prefer to understand the conext of discussion and state the extreme case just to spice up their colums. Can a complete transcrept be posted.
    2-I persoanlly do not expect JI to say and mean the way it is portrayed and I am expecting a ompletely differrent version of discussion.

    3- If JI cheif has indeed this position then his statement and views musty be condemned in strongest terms possible.

    3- I dont think that 4 witness requirement is valid in most circumstances.If evidence otherwise is convincing , judge can and must rule accordingly.

    4-Punishment for e rape must be swift, examplary and based on whatever prrofs are acceptable in a court of law.

    5- Society must not term the victims as dishoured women , urdu meadia should do away with terms like ABROO RAIZI .I think the honor of a victim as intact as before .It is is the rapist who must be termd as abroo bakhta . honoless and so and so forth.The whole society is to be blamed for treating victims like criminals.


  • Maulana Diesel
    Jul 16, 2011 - 4:43PM

    I was told that JI followers were literate people. The comments of their leader Munawwar Hassan says it all about JI, its leadership and their followers.


  • Usman
    Jul 20, 2011 - 2:25PM

    Since I was a child I have been taught that Islam is a religion of peace, mercy and justice.

    So if a raped woman is stoned to death and the perpetrator is set honourably free just because there are no “four male honourable witnesses”. Does anyone find any justice in this? Isnt this a total contradiction of the basic principles of Islam.

    I have been taught that people converted to Islam because there was goodness and logic to it. Im sorry but I cant find anything good or logical about this.


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