Does Marital Rape Even Exist?

Marital Rape

The Salafi movement or Salafism is an ultra-conservative reform branch or movement within Sunni Islam that developed in Arabia in the first half of the 18th century. It advocated a return to the traditions of the "devout ancestors" (the salaf). Salafism is often referred to as Wahhabism and is the most extreme form of Islam. The majority of the world's Salafis are from Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia. They have very strict rules, especially for women. According to their ideology, husband’s within his rights to demand sexual intercourse whenever he wants (unless the woman is menstruating), as well as to forbid her from going out to work.

Marital rape (or spousal rape) is the act of sexual intercourse with one's spouse without the consent of the other spouse. It is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Although it was once widely unrecognized by law and society as wrong or as a crime, it is now recognized as rape by many societies around the world, repudiated by international conventions, and increasingly criminalized.

Sheikh Mohamed Al-Mallah, an Egyptian cleric who recently appeared in a debate about marital rape, said: “One of the reasons for marriage is so that the husband can remain chaste. If the wife denies her husband [sex], it opens the way for the husband to seek abomination and adultery. Besides, you cannot call this religious concept “rape” when Allah allowed this contract between husband and wife. How can this be rape?! Did he kidnap her and is now having sex with her? No! She is his wife, and when he summons her, she must comply.” We can see that Al-Mallah is trying to say that the woman is responsible for her husband's moral righteousness.

According to Sheikh Mohamed Al-Mallah, only religious excuses can “save” women from sex with her husband: “If, however, she is ill or is menstruating or something like this, the husband must not force her to do it. But if she does not have a religious excuse that allows her to avoid this, she is categorically not allowed to deny her husband sex. If she does so, she is rebelling against Allah. It is inconceivable for her to deny her husband sex.”

Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Sayyid Zayed, who was debating Al-Mallah, said a wife being forced to have sex with her husband is actually more than just rape. “In the name of Allah, Allah’s blessing upon His Prophet. This is not merely rape. It is the murder of the wife’s humanity as well. It is the killing of her emotions and the annihilation of her honor. The word ‘rape’ is the mildest term one can use here.”

We can see how two members of the same religion have completely different views of wife and her role in marriage. While Sheikh Mohamed Al-Mallah sees wife only as instrument for satisfying husband’s needs, Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Sayyid Zayed thinks that term “rape” is the mildest term one can use when it comes to sexual violence in marriage.

Photo Credits: Ellen and Jim

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