Monday, February 23, 2015

Islamic Law and Rape

Proving Rape in Islamic Law is Impossible

When I was completing my law degree at Mumbai, one of the subjects in our first year of study was Islamic law. What is Islamic law? It is a set of principles as interpreted by various jurists from Islamic holy books. It is only applicable to Muslim.
The law at one time was progressive, about 1500 years back, but in the modern world some facets of the law are archaic. In particular I am concerned with the crime of rape. Islamic law as stated in the Sharia states that in case a rape is to be proved, the following needs to be fulfilled

a) There should be 4 witnesses to the rape. This by itself is a non-starter as rape is generally committed in seclusion and 4 witnesses will never be available.
b) A women’s evidence is half of a man, thus in case there are only women witnesses the requirement is 8 witnesses. This reduces women to second class status.

These laws of evidence clearly make the charge of proving rape almost zero. The worst thing is that in case a woman cannot prove rape she is to be tried for Zinna or adultery and the punishment for that is death by stoning.

The Sharia is not dead and gone in rape cases. It was re-introduced by President Zia ul Haq in Pakistan and is also valid in many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia.
In India it is not recognized where the Indian penal code covers the crime of rape. The Sharia is also not having any legal standing in the West and China.