Sexual abuse and rape are not new, to this day; these vices have been rooted in history and will exist if they are not confronted on face. These are heinous crimes that undermine the nature of the society and should not go unaddressed. Since these issues also exists is Muslim families, we need to emphasize the teachings of Islam regarding the values of human life. According to Islam, human life is a sacred gift from Allah so the sanctity of life should be preserved.
In Islam, respect for human life has been stressed upon unstintingly and all promiscuous relationships have been forbidden irrespective of the position or status of the women in question. As a general rule, all forms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual tortures have been forbidden in Islam. Punishment has been designated for this heinous crime. In the days of the Holy Prophet, rapist was inflicted with punishment on the solitary evidence of the rape victim.
Rape as a crime, has been interpreted in the category of “Hiraba” by legal Islamic scholars. Hiraba is described as a single person or group of people causing killing, public disruption, forcibly taking property or money, attacking or raping women, killing cattle, or disrupting agriculture. In Islam, sexual pleasure and autonomy is a fundamental right for both men and women. Rape as hiraba is a crime that employs sexual intercourse as weapon. Hiraba does not require the testimony of four witnesses to prove the offense.
Islamic law bestows ownership rights to parts of one’s body and the right to compensate in terms of any harm done to any of those parts. This is called the law of Jirah, which entitles a person harmed to appropriate compensation under Islamic jurisprudence. The foundation of a marital relationship is affection and love between the spouses, not control and power. Rape is prohibited in such a relationship. School of Islamic law has stated that if a woman is harmed through sexual intercourse, she should be given a financial compensation for the disgrace.
Jirah also covers the aspect that if a physical harm or disease is caused by a spouse, a claim for jirah compensation is due. It is very important not to confuse the argument on the mutual rights that a marital couple has on each other with the distorted, misguided and misogynist belief that women become a husband’s property. Islam does not permit or allow ownership of human beings. Islam always treats people on equality. Human dignity does not permit that any one person has the right to own another human being and Islam appeals that all humans respect the humanity of everyone.