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Abrogation in Islam: the Uniqueness of Duality

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Jamal Badawi, concludes his propagating claims in his e-mail to Robert Spencer, on February 14 2005, by declaring: “Those who erroneously claimed that all such definitive verses have all been ‘abrogated’ by what they called ‘the verse of the sword’ were mistaken and failed to give any definitive evidence of their claims.

There is no single verse in the Qur’an properly interpreted in its context and historical circumstances that ever allowed the Muslim to fight non-Muslims simply because they are non-Muslims…”

Well, even if Badawi ignores the 109 verses that call for violence of Jihad and slaughtering against the infidels and hundreds of verses that call for incitement and hatred against the other, he still deceives and misleads in his propagation. Contrary to his words, the mild verses that call for avoidance and against retaliation are all from the Meccan period and were all abrogated, nullified and rendered void when Muhammad became strong and victorious at Medina. Western politicians, members of the academia and the media are not only unaware and perhaps ignorant of this reality, just because they don’t learn, but at the same time disseminate, intentionally or unintentionally, the tidings of the Islamic propaganda.

When one opens the Qur’an, he sees at the top of the page in brackets the words Makki or Madani, meaning Sûrah from Meccan period or Medinan period. This differentiation is according to Islamic exegesis, since the Qur’an is organized neither chronologically nor topically but in order of the length of the Sûwar: from longest to shortest. The line of differentiation was in September 622, when Muhammad ran away from Mecca and went to Yathrib (later called Medina, or Madinat al-Nabī). This event was so significant in Muslim history that it is called Hijrah, meaning emigration, but also ‘separation,’ ‘breaking of relations.’

Most importantly, it marks the beginning of the Muslim Calendar. This is something to bear in mind concerning Islamic doctrine and teaching. Muhammad began his prophecy from year 610 in Mecca. The total majority, 90 Sûwar of the Qur’an, out of 114, are from Meccan period. Yet, Islamic exegetes preferred the Hijrah as the founding event of Islamic history. The reason is clear: at Mecca, after 12 years of preaching Muhammad had a total 80 believers and the Muslims were weak and persecuted. Only at Medina, Muhammad became the leader of a religion, a military hero who fought his enemies at the battleground and won over. The Medinan Sûwar, only 24 in number, reflect this reality, being much more belligerent and warmongering, and the Calendar emphasizes this reality: they are more important.

However, from Islamic perspective, it was essential to find out the exact chronology and the historical settings of the Qur’an Sûwar, as the order of their revelation is not known from reading the Qur’an. This problem was recognized by early Muslim scholars who devoted much attention to it. They have investigated this realm and developed it almost as a science called Asbāb al-Nuzûl, “the causes of descend,” the circumstances and reasons of revelation of the Qur’an’s Sûwar.

For the Muslims the Qur’an is miraculous (I’jāz) and has been revealed for all times and situations from the beginning of history to the end of the world. However, the many repetitions in the Qur’an, the arbitrary order, the mixture of styles and genres are indicative of human process in its creation. The Qur’an being collated piecemeal, still exacerbates the determination of the chronology of the verses and their orderly appearance. From here the principle of abrogation (al-Nāsikh wal-Mansûkh) has developed. The Arabic words ‘Nāsikh’ and ‘Mansûkh’ are derived from ‘n.s.kh.’, means ‘to abolish, to replace, to withdraw, to abrogate’. It appears four times in the Qur’an.

Arthur Jeffery explains: The Qur’an is unique among sacred scriptures in teaching a doctrine of abrogation according to which later pronouncements of the Prophet abrogate, i.e.: declare null and void, his earlier pronouncements. The importance of knowing which verses abrogate others has given rise to the Qur’anic science known as ‘Nāsikh wa-Mansûkh,’ i.e. the Abrogator and the Abrogated. So, rather than attempting to explain away the inconsistencies in passages giving regulations for the Muslim community, Qur’an scholars and jurists came to acknowledge the differences while arguing that the latest verse on any controversial subject abrogates all earlier verses that contradicted it.

According to a Hadīth: the Messenger of Allah abrogated some of his commands by others, just as the Qur’an abrogates some part of it with the other. Muhammad was accustomed to stating something to his followers with the claim that it was revealed to him from Allah, then later on he would change it and tells them that Allah had invalidated it. The Qur’an is confusing and there are revelations which might have been forgotten, changed or eliminated. There is no agreement even to which was the first Sûrah to be revealed to Muhammad (Sûrat al-A’laq, 96 or Sûrat al-Muddaththir, 74). One example of the jumbled chronology is that Sûwar 2:193 and 2:216, 2:217 were revealed just after Muhammad arrived in Medina, about six years before Sûwar 2:190–2:192 were revealed. Yet Sûrah 2:193 was inserted to follow 2:190-192.

What are the Qur’anic sources of abrogation?

When we cancel a message, or throw it into oblivion, we replace it with one better or one similar. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things? (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106).

When we replace a message with another, and Allah knows best what he reveals, they say: you have made it up. Yet, most of them do not know (Sûrat al-Nahl, 16:101).

Allah abrogates or confirms whatsoever he will, for he has with him the Book of the Books (Sûrat al-Ra’d, 13:39).

If we pleased we could take away what we have revealed to you. Then you will not find anyone to plead for it with us (Sûrat Bani Isrā’īl, 17:86).

There is also references in the Hadīth:

“The Prophet said, ‘If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath'” (Sahīh Bukhāri, 7:427).

“The Prophet said, ‘It is a bad thing that some of you say, ‘I have forgotten such-and-such verse of the Qur’an.’ For indeed, I have been caused to forget it. So you must keep on reciting the Qur’an because it escapes from the hearts of men faster than a runaway camel'” (Sahīh Bukhāri, 6:550).

The assertion of the scholar Ali Dashti is explains the problems:

“It must always be borne in mind that most of the Qur’anic laws and ordinances were formulated in response to random incidents and petitions from aggrieved persons. There are inconsistencies in them and in the reasons that there are abrogating and abrogated ordinances….

Muslim exegetes agreed that Muhammad was prepared to change his mind, vows, and rules according to the circumstances. Ahmad von Denffer, a German converted to Islam exegete, summarizes the issue that the knowledge of al-‘Nāsikh wal-Mansûkh bears important perspectives: It is concerned with the correct and exact application of the laws of Allah; it is one of the important pre-conditions for interpretation (Tafsīr) of the Qur’an and the application of the Islamic law (Sharī’ah); it sheds light on the historical development of the Islamic legal code; and it helps to understand the immediate meaning of the verses concerned.

According to the narration of Ibn `Abbas, one of the most acclaimed transmitter of the Qur’an and the Hadīth:

“Sometimes the revelation used to descend on the Prophet during the night and then he forgot it during daytime, thus Allah sent down this verse’ [2:106]. Such behavior led the infidels to say that Muhammad was preaching contradictory and opposite commands. He does not receive inspiration from Allah, for he changes his mind whenever he wishes. Thus, this verse was written… Muhammad used to order something and then change it the next day whenever he found it too difficult to be implemented. Lastly, Muhammad did not want to embarrass the men around him who memorized his sayings.”

Yusuf Ali said that Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106 means that Allah’s message from age to age is always the same, but its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of time. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation. This does not mean that eternal principles change. As about Sûrat al-Nahl, 16:101 Yusuf Ali claims: “The doctrine of progressive revelation does not mean that Allah’s fundamental law changes. It is not fair to charge the Prophet with forgery because the message, as revealed to him, is different from that revealed before, when the core of the truth is the same, for it comes from Allah.”

Abd al-Majid Daryabadi, Pakistani exegete and Qur’an commentator, refers to Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106:

“There is nothing to be ashamed of in the doctrine of certain laws, temporary or local, being superseded or abrogated by certain other laws, permanent and universal, enacted by the same law-giver… Even divine laws may be subject to divine improvement…

However, today Islamic propagators, fearing the implications of abrogated verses on their propaganda and Da`wah, act to dismiss the doctrine all in all. In an Islamic internet site, one named A. Muhammed refutes the abrogation principle, by attacking the “corrupted interpretation the verses: 2:106 and 16:101.” To this day, he claims, Jews and Christians accuse Muhammad of fabricating the Qur’an, and the case is substituting one verse of the Qur’an with another. Muhammad Asad, a converted Jew, has the same attitude: “the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected.” The Ahamadiyah sect also joins this conception.  

Yet, to this group of deniers, Hibat-Allah Ibn Salamah (d. 1019), one of the Islamic scholars and abrogation founders, would have reacted by declaring: “these people have deviated from the truth, and by the virtue of their lies have turned away from Allah… All verses about forgiving the infidels are abrogated unanimously. Anyone who engages in the scientific study of the Qur’an without having mastered the doctrine of abrogation is ‘deficient’ (Naqis).

Muslim exegetes noticed that the number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased between the eighth and eleventh centuries (al-Zuhri: 42 abrogated verses, al-Nahhas: 138, Ibn Salama: 238, al-Farsi: 248). However, Suyuti confirmed only twenty abrogated verses which are acknowledged by all exegetes.

Andrew Rippin states that although the companions of Muhammad are reported to have discussed Naskh and even to have disagreed over the abrogation of verses, references are relatively infrequent. The number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased dramatically between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Whether there are more than 200 abrogation or only five, it is almost a consensus among classical and most important Muslim exegetes that it exists and had much influence on understanding the revelation of Qur’an.

The following list is taken from al-Tabari Qur’an commentary: a) 3:85 abrogates 2:62 and 5:69. b) 9:29 abrogates 2:109. c) 2:185 abrogates 2:184. d) 9:36 abrogates 2:217 and 45:14. e) 5:90 abrogates 2:219. The provision of this verse concerning alcoholic drinks and gambling has been abrogated by verse 5:90. f) 4:12 abrogates 2:240. g) 24:2 abrogates 4:15-16. The provision of this verse ordaining lashing for the unmarried and stoning to death for the married, when four witnesses testify to the crime.

Concerning types of abrogation, Ibn Salamah delineates four kinds:

a) Forty Three Sûwar that were not abrogated at all (neither Nāsikh nor Mansûkh): 1, 12, 36, 49, 55, 57, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107,109, 108, 110, 112, 113, 114.

b) Six Sûwar that maintained the authority of the abrogator, but their original wording was not abrogated (with Nāsikh but no Mansûkh): 48, 59, 63, 64, 65, 87

c) Forty Sûwar in which their wording had been abrogated, but maintained their authority for applications (with Mansûkh but no Nāsikh): 6, 7 10, 11, 13, 15 16 17, 18, 20, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 51, 53, 54, 60, 68, 70, 74, 75, 76, 77, 86, 80, 88, 109.

d) Twenty five Sûwar that have had both their authority for applications and their wording abrogated (with both Nāsikh and Mansûkh): 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 40, 42, 51, 52, 56, 58, 73, 103, and 108.

Suyuti, makes the following typology: 25 Sûwar in which there are verses both abrogating and abrogated: 2,3,4,5,8,9,14,18,19,21,22,24,25,26,33,34,40,42,51,52,56,

58,73,108. That is, out of 114 Sûwar of the Qur’an, 71 Sûwar, comprising 62% have had verses changed or deleted.

The most important verse and the greatest abrogator (Nāsikh) of the Qur’an verses is Sûrat al-Barā’ah, 9:5, called “the verse of the sword.” It has cancelled and replaced in Toto 124 mild verses:

2:62; 2:83; 2:109; 2:139; 2:190; 2:191; 2:192; 2:217; 2:256; 3:20; 3:28; 4:15; 4: 16; 4: 63; 4:80; 4:81; 4:84; 4:90; 4:91; 5:2; 5:13; 5:99; 5:102; 6:66; 6:70; 6:91; 6:104; 6:106; 6:107; 6:108; 6:112; 6:135; 6:137; 6:158; 7:183; 7:199; 8:61; 8:73; 10:20; 10:41; 10:46; 10:99; 10:102; 10:108; 10:109; 11:12; 11:121; 11:122; 13:40; 15:3; 15:85; 15:89; 15:94; 16:82; 16:106; 16:125; 16:127; 17:54; 19:39; 19:75; 19: 84; 20:130; 20:136; 22:68; 23:54; 23:96; 24:54; 27:92; 28:55; 29:46; 29:50; 30:60; 32:30; 33:48; 34:25; 35:23; 36:76; 37:174; 37:175; 37:178; 37:179; 38:70; 38:88; 39:3; 39:15; 39:39; 39:40; 40:12; 41:34; 42:6; 42:6; 42:15; 42:48; 43:14; 43:83; 43:98; 44:59; 45:14; 46:35; 47:4; 50:29; 50:39; 50:45; 52: 48; 53:29; 53:39; 54:6; 58:8; 58:9; 58:11; 60:8; 60:9; 68:44; 68:48; 70:42; 73:10; 74:11; 76:8; 76:24; 86:17; 88:22; 88:23; 88:24; 93:22; 95:8; 109:6.

According to Ibn Kathir in his commentary to 9:5, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq used this and other verses as a proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakāt. These verses allowed fighting all the peoples unless and until they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations.

“It is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. This honorable Ayah was called the Ayat al-Sayf [the verse of the Sword], about which al-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, ‘It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolater, every treaty, and every term. Ibn `Abbas commented: ‘No idolater had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Barā’ah was revealed.

This is the reason why the issue of abrogation has become a serious matter in contemporary political debate conducted by the Muslim propagators, concerning jihadi terrorism and the homicide bombings phenomenon. They clearly sense that their propaganda war towards the free world as if Islam is peaceful and compassionate is shaky and slippery, and for that they deny any traces of the abrogation doctrine. Conquering the world, Dār al-Islām against Dār al-Harb, and the perpetuated war against the infidels, all these are not only slogans, but religious duty to be accomplished according to the power Muslims can master.

Therefore, since abrogation was legitimate and had been practiced in the Qur’an and Hadīth, there is no need to argue with the false fraudulent Islamic propaganda concerning Jihad being spiritual and Islam being peace-loving. Jihad means terrorism, aggressiveness and violence implemented against all infidels. The contemporary horrendous policy toward all the minorities in the Middle East reflects this reality. The crimes against humanity such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass-slaughtering perpetrated against Muslims and non-Muslims is pervasive.

Surah 9 is most important concerning the issues of abrogation and the policy of Jihad against all infidels. It is the only Sûrah without the Bismillāh (“in the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful”) opening, probably for its military Jihadi and violent character. For that, some Muslim exegetes call it “the Ultimatum,” al-Barā’ah. It was revealed after the conquest of Mecca in January 630. al-Suyuti listed Sûrah 9 second to the last, while Bukhari claimed that “The last Sûrah that was revealed to Muhammad by Allah was Sûrat al-Barā’ah [9].” Consequently, since this Sûrah contains the largest amount of violent passages, it abrogates all the relevant Qur’an passages from earlier periods.

Bukhari, in the chapter headed “‘The statement of Allah” related to Sûrat al-Barā’ah, 9:5, claims:

“Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammad is Allah’s apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give obligatory charity. If they perform all that, then they save their lives and property from me, and then their reckoning will be done by Allah.”

“Paradise is under the blades of the swords… Our Prophet told us about the message of our Lord ‘… whoever amongst us is killed, will go to Paradise.’ ‘Umar asked the prophet, ‘Is it not true that pure men who are killed will go to Paradise and their enemies will go to Hell-fire? The Prophet said, ‘Yes’.”

Muhsin Khan, the translator of Sahīh Bukhāri, into English, claims that Allah revealed Sûrat al- Barā’ah in order to discard all obligations, and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the pagans as well as against the People of the Scriptures, if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and feel subdued [9:29]. The Muslims were not permitted to abandon the fighting against them and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them while they are strong and have the ability to fight against them.

For Ibn Kathir it is clear: as Jihad involves death and the killing of men: “Allah draws our attention to the fact that unbelief, polytheism of the infidels and their avoidance of Allah’s path (Fitnah) are far worse than killing.” Here is the permission to kill all infidels and the license of free violence and terrorism for the Muslims through all generations. Jihad is the right way, and it is permissible for the believers just because the others are infidels.

Ibn Hazm deals in detail in the Qur’an wherein there appears to be conflict and/or contradiction. Through every Sûrah, he points out verses which have been canceled and the verses which replace it. He notes that there are 114 versus that call for tolerance and patience which have been canceled and replaced by Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:5. Islam is unanimous about fighting the infidels and forcing them to Islam, or submitting them to Islamic governance, or being killed.

The contemporary Islamic al-Azhar influential scholar, Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, says in his well-known research:

“The verse (9:5) does not leave any room in the mind to conjecture about what is called defensive war. This verse asserts that holy war which is demanded in Islamic law is not a defensive war, because it could legitimately be an offensive war. That is the apex and most honorable of all Holy wars. Its goal is the exaltation of the word of Allah, the construction of Islamic society and establishment of Allah’s kingdom on Earth regardless the means. It is legal to carry on an offensive Holy War.”

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The daily reality of working poverty

MD Staff

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Louisette Fanjamalala, has worked hard all her life, yet, like millions of working poor around the globe, she barely makes enough to survive.

Fanjamalala, from Madagascar, lives with four teenage children – two of her own and two orphans she has adopted. Their home is a cramped one-room house in the Antananarivo suburb of Soavina. Her husband left years ago.

For years, she worked in textile factories, getting only short term contracts and earning as little as 70 000 ariary (about US$20) a month in some cases, and, at best cases 300 000 ariary (about US$90). That was barely enough to feed her family. Now, things are even worse.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to be hired because I am considered as too old. It is a shame because I am qualified, I work as fast as and even better than younger workers. However, nowadays, human resources departments usually turn down my request without even giving me an appointment,” she sighed.

Because she was also a victim of violence at work, Fanjamalala recently received support from an ILO programme which provided her with new skills and a sewing machine. She now makes some money by doing sewing work at home for people in her neighbourhood. She also makes clothes and curtains that she sells at the local market. However, getting food on the family table remains a constant challenge.

“Fanjamalala’s story is unfortunately very common in Madagascar and in many developing countries,” said Christian Ntsay, Director of the ILO Office in Antananarivo. “You only need to walk in the streets here and talk to people to realize that the findings of the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018  (WESO) on vulnerable employment and working poverty translate into a reality faced by millions of people,” he said.

“Ninety-three per cent of Malagasy workers like Louisette Fanjamalala have no other choice than working in the informal economy to survive,” Ntsay added.

1.4 billion workers in vulnerable employment

“Working poverty continues to fall but – again – just like for vulnerable employment , progress is stalling,” explained Stefan Kühn, lead author of the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018.

”Vulnerable employment affects three out of four workers in developing countries. Almost 1.4 billion workers are estimated to be in vulnerable employment in 2017. Every year, an additional 17 million are expected to join them.”

In 2017, extreme working poverty remained widespread, with more than 300 million workers in emerging and developing countries having a per capita household income or consumption of less than US$1.90 per day.

Overall, progress in reducing working poverty is too slow to keep pace with the growing labour force in developing countries, where the number of people in extreme working poverty is expected to exceed 114 million in 2018, or 40 per cent of all employed people.

“Emerging countries achieved significant progress in reducing extreme working poverty. It should continue to fall, translating into a reduction in the number of extreme working poor by 10 million per year in 2018 and 2019. However, moderate working poverty, in which workers live on an income of between US$1.90 and US$3.10 per day, remains widespread, affecting 430 million workers in emerging and developing countries in 2017,” said Kühn.

“The findings of the WESO Trends 2018 report is a reminder that more efforts need to be done to reduce inequalities and to ensure better living and working conditions for people like Louisette Fanjamalala and the 1.4 billion workers facing a similar situation throughout the world,” he concluded.

Source: ILO

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The Worst Horror Story – Rape

Aditi Aryal

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Photo by Zach Guinta on Unsplash

Rape in all its horrendous forms is a marred and an abhorrent trace of patriarchy and misogyny. The direct victims are majorly women, but the fact that men can be –and often are– victims cannot be discounted. Devising its roots in power-play and control, today it carries a heavier weight as a statutory offence with set penalties. Despite these penalties and a massive international attention taking forms of media outrage, studies, monetary and legal aid, awareness programs, and safe shelters, rapes of women – young and old are alarmingly high in South Asia by offenders of varying age groups.

In Nepal, as reported by a national daily, 78 rape cases have on average been reported every month over a course of five years, many of the offenders being septuagenarians and octogenarians. The Indian National Crime Bureau Report (NCBR, 2016) claimed 338,954 reports were made between 2015 and 2016 as crimes against women out of which 38,947 were rapes. It also reported an increase of 82% in the incidents of rape of children. Likewise, in Pakistan, Human Rights Watch asserts of at least one rape every two hours and one gang-rape every eight. In Bangladesh, 13,003 rape cases were reported between 2001-2017 out of which 85 were rapes by law enforcement agents such as police, jail agents, and the army. These data are only the tip of the iceberg as many cases are unreported by the victim, withdrawn upon coercion, or refused to be registered as a legit case by the authority

The Dynamics

The causes of rape are far too many, and differs from case to case. The reasons that surface commonly are sexual frustration in men, poverty, mind-sets and attitudes that reflect machismo, a sense of entitlement, unawareness, and acceptance. In 2012, a report by UNICEF published that 57% men and 53% women in India thought marital rape as not rape, and a sizeable number believed that beating of wives by their husbands was not violence. In India and Bangladesh, the legislations on what constitutes a crime declares it as not rape if the person is married to the victim and if she is over 15 years of age, excepting judicial separation.

We need to remind ourselves that in the South Asian countries, men often grow up being told and shown that they are superior to women who then grow old with a sense of entitlement as they deem it fit for a woman to be available on their demand. When these men are unable to earn for the family due to unemployment or otherwise, their frustration takes the form of rape to demonstrate their ‘masculinity’ and maintain superiority over the women.

Now, this mentality also works in reverse, where a woman is told be to weaker than men and should protect herself from them if she does not wish to get raped. In most South Asian families, females have lesser liberty of movement and choices as compared to their male counterparts. This obviously arises from expected gender behavior that good women should be meek, submissive, and obedient but is also centered around the fact that the families do not want their females to be raped.

This objective of giving women the security inside the family homes is flawed for two reasons. Firstly, rapes and molestation within the family very often exist. In January 2018, a baby girl of eight months was raped in Delhi, India by a relative in her house. Little girls of varying ages have been raped right next to a family member by another family member or neighbors in several instances in Nepal and they could do nothing, not even file a complaint because this façade of a domestic protection does not concern a female’s bodily security but societal reputation.

The Aftermath

Once a person is subjected to rape, the victim becomes unchaste and impure and is thought to bring dishonour to the family. The terminology in Pakistan is kari, referring to someone who has lost virginity outside marriage and an honour killing, karokari, is subjected by the village council. The victims often commit suicide or are killed by their own families for tainting the honour. In 2002, Mukhtaran Bibi challenged this status quo by not committing suicide after a gang rape that was ordered on her by a village council but filed a case against all her rapists. Initially, they were sentenced to death but in 2005, five of them were acquitted due to lack of evidence. In 2011, the sixth offender got acquitted too. In 2017 in Multan, Pakistan, a jirgah (village council) ordered revenge rape on the sister of an offender. In all these years, nothing has changed and even today revenge rape is still being ordered on innocent girls for no fault of their own as punishment.

The victims in other countries face social stigma and have to live in fear because once someone falls victim to rape, they are prone to more rapes because the value of a person is reduced from that of a human to a commodity that is free for public use. In Haryana, India, a girl was gang-raped twice by the same set of men who were out on bail after raping her the first time six years ago. A take-home message is that the onus lies on a woman to protect herself from men who are always lurking in hunt of a prey to rape, yet again asserting that the victim befalls such fate on themselves due to their actions, or in Pakistan actions of their family members.

Rapes are justified for godforsaken reasons and victims told they were ‘asking for it’ by travelling alone at ungodly hours, dressing provocatively, being friends with men, or indulging in so called notorious activities like smoking, drinking, and partying. The way these protectionist measures are advised always revolves around victim but never around the offenders, due to the notion that men have an insatiable sexual appetite and if women portray themselves to be ‘easy’, they are raped. Ranjit Sinha, head of Indian Central Bureau of Investigation once commented that if women couldn’t prevent rapes, they should enjoy it.

In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, victims of rape are subjected to a two-finger test to determine their sexual activeness. This procedure exists despite so many pleas from within these countries and outside to get rid of it on the bases that it is flawed on so many levels as it renders women who chose to be sexually active out of consent as lecherous and dirty who have already been touched by a man. This violation of a victim’s body is backed by the government in the form of a random stranger determining of their worth. This is of course scientifically inaccurate, and extremely irrelevant in case of rape.

Equally exasperating is the fact that women should remain pious and dedicated to only choosing to be sexually active with their legally married husbands but when their husbands rape them, it is not recognised by the legislation. O. P. Chautala, an ex minister in India, once stated that girls should be married as they turn 16 so that sexual needs of women are met and they will not go elsewhere and rapes will reduce. However, even statutory age of marriage is above 16 in India, and marriage is not a way to end rape. Rather, such a statement renders women as cattle whose ownership belongs to the husband.

These instances prove time and again that the role of a woman is always reduced to pleasing her husband in bed without considerations.  In fact, marriage is a holy sacrament that can undo rape – perhaps why victims are married off to their rapists in South Asia who then continue to rape them for the rest of their lives.

Most importantly, the police and other protectors of law find ways to make money out of instances of rape. Like, in January 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal, a woman of 22 years withdrew her report of rape after few days and it was later revealed that the police were involved facilitating monetary settlements between the accused and the complainant with a personal gain. In Bharatpur, Nepal in February 2018, police coerced a woman to withdraw her rape complaint. So many more cases have surfaced in the southern plains of Nepal where the police have been involved as middlemen.

Hindrance to Justice

The reasons behind rape are men-centric but they have been ingrained in the societies as acceptable by both men and women. Reporting of rape has been increasing in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan but the cases are not dealt with caution. The victims face injustice and have to go through denigrating treatment by the police and health officers, questioning their character and morality.

The portrayal of a victim in the media is a stereotypical one, a non-provocative, harmless, and morally upright person with no past sexual history. Any victim deviating from this stereotype probably brought it on themselves. Further, the media has been reporting on sensitive issues like rape without sensitivity like revealing the victim’s name which is illegal or slut-shaming the victims.

Lastly, even death penalties are not enough to deter people from committing rapes. In Pakistan and India, rape can be punished with death but the crime is still on the rise. After the 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi, India, a strong plea was made to change the judicial system and a fast-track hearing was introduced for rape because national outrage by the citizens was not deemed enough to bring a change. In Nepal, the fast-track court is in practice too, but the problem arises in procuring evidence which is substantial in these cases.

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Without firm action on gender equality, women’s empowerment, world may miss development targets

MD Staff

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

“This is an urgent signal for action, and the report recommends the directions to follow,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, said on the launch of the new report, Turning promises into action: Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, she said: “As a world, we committed through the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] to leave no one behind,” but the report reveals many areas where progress remains slow to achieve the Goals by 2030.

Even where progress is made, it may not reach the women and girls who need it most and the ones that are being left furthest behind,” explained Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Turning promises into action makes in-depth case studies in the Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, United States and Uruguay, looking at what is necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Focusing on unpaid care work and ending violence against women, the comprehensive report examines all 17 SDGs and how deeply intertwined the different dimensions of well-being and deprivation are in impacting the lives of women and girls.

As one example, it points out that a girl born into poverty and forced into early marriage is more likely to drop out of school, give birth at an early age, suffer childbirth complications and experience violence – a scenario that encompasses all the SDGs.

Moreover, new data in 89 countries reveals that there are 4.4 million more women than men living on less than $1.90 a day – much of which is explained by the disproportionate burden of unpaid care work women face, especially during their reproductive years.

Looking beyond national averages, glaring gaps are uncovered between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living in worlds apart because of income status, race, ethnicity or location.

While the report addresses how to tackle existing structural inequalities and what is needed to move from promises to action, progress remains slow.

“It’s a problem in all countries, developed, developing, north, south, east west,” Shahrashoub Razavi, UN Women’s Chief of Research and Data, told UN News.

“We have a long way to go to achieve gender equality universally,” she added, calling it “a problem that stymies the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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