Home Islamic Studies Tafseer Islam Rejects Sexual Violence

Islam Rejects Sexual Violence


By: Imam Nakha’i

The development of Information Technology (IT) is continued by the more number of dimensions of Violence Against Women (VAW). The online Gender Based Violence (GBV) became one of the highest number of violence against women that happned in 2018 (The Annual Report of Komnas Perempuan, 2019). The online GBV became one of the forms of violence against women that increased quickly every year. In general, the case that had been reported to Komnas Perempuan in 2018 related to the cyber violence against women women increased to 67%, with the 97 cases reported in 2018, and 65 cases reported in 2017. 61% of perpetrators were the victim’s relatives, usually husband or boyfriend who perpetuate the online GBV. 

The online Gender Based Violence is part of sexual violence. The sexual violence itself is a kind of violation against humanrights, and also a crime against human dignity, and also a form of discrimination that should be eliminated. Most of the victims of sexual violence were women and girls; so that the sexual violence can be said as Gender Based Violence (GBV) that attack human because of their sex (female) or because of they experienced discrimination based on the inequal gender relation. 

The sexual violence can produce serious impacts to the victims, namely psychological sufferings, health, economic, up to social and political suffering situation. The impact can be stronger when the victims were part of economic, social, and politically marginalized society; or they have specific needs such as people with disability and children. 

Up to know, the positive laws had not been able to give comprehensive protections for the victims. Including to guarantee the physical and psychological disadvantages that were experience by both victims and perpetrators. And also it still can’t protect the rights of the victims, handle the case comprehensively, and prevent from the repeating sexual crimes. 

The education approach to the society were not less important to raise awareness morally and theologically that sexual violence is not only violate human being and human dignity, but more than that; sexual violence violate the values of morality and religion which not only must be accounted in the world, but also in hereafter. One of the efforts to build this awareness is by continuing to campaign that sexual violence is a big crime which become the enemy of religion; in addition it’s a kind of worshipping another entity but God The Almighty. 

As a non-violence religion, it is not difficult to conclude that Islam is one of the religion which call for the elimination of sexual violence; starting from the sexual harassment up to the sexual slavery. A lof numbers of the Qur’anic verses that wake up us and build the public awareness of the still patriarchal society  by affirming that violence against women are contradictory with the Tauhid or the value of the Oness of God and the human dignity (al-karamah al-insaniyah).

Sexual Harassment in the Quran   

In the contemporary Arabic term, sexual violence was known as “at-taharrusy al-jinsi”. Etimologically, “at-taharrusy al-jinsi” means committing to conflict (at-tahyiij), perpetuating the destroy (al-ifsad), and creating the damage, hate, and battle (al-igra’). While terminologically, can be defined as every sexual statement and action that were used to attack and disturb other people. The Quran prohibited sexual harassment, both physically and non-physically. The Quran defined sexual harassment both physically and non-physically as “ar-rafats” and “fakhisyah”. According to the Quranic interpreters (mufassirin), term “ar-rafats” means al-ifhasy li al-mar’ah fi al-kalam  (nasty saying or statement to women that tend to sexuality). While fakhisyah is almost similar with ar-rafats means vicious action and nasty statement that attack and degrade the humanity and women’s human dignity. The nasty statements and vicious actions that tend to sexuality, such as giving comments on women’s body such as sexy, whore, and other body shaming actions that degrades women’s body sovereignty. Also many actions such as groping, poking, rubbing the body parts and any other actions, were clearly prohibited whether those actions done in the domestic sphere or public sphere, by whoever and whenever. In several hadiths, Prophet Muhammad PBUH said,”If someone’s head among you is stabbed by the iron needle, it’s better for you rather then groping a woman who is not his own wife” (HR.Ath Thabrani, the narrators are valid). 

In another hadith Prophet PBUH said, “If you weltered with the pig covered in mud and dirt, it’s better for you rather than you lay on your shoulder to another woman’s shoulder who is not your wife.” (HR At-Thabrani). 

Both of the hadiths affirmed that sexual violence is strongly prohibited in Islam, because it degrades the human dignity, whether it’s the dignity of the perpetrator and furthermore the dignity of the victim. An Egypt Mufati, Syauqi Ibrahim Allam said, “Verily, the sexual violence against woman is a big sin and the most disgusting and bad acts in the perspective of the Sharia. The sexual violence is only delivered of the souls that are possessed and low lusts, so that they only spit their sexual needs with the animal instinct, out of logical and humanity reason.”

Exploitation, Prostitution and Sexual Slavery

The Quran described the blurry history of violence against women, including sexual violence. Some models of marriage in the Ignorance (Jahiliyah) era which had exploited women’s body such as nikah ash-shighar, nikah ar-rahthi, nikah al-istibdha’, nikah al-badal, nikah mut’ah and etc. were eliminated by Islam and changed by the equal, just, and harmonious marriage. The Quran struggle to eliminate all kind of exploitative sexual relation 

which had been inherited from patriarchal culture that rooted  as long as the history of human being. The verse of 33 of Surah An Nur told us about the hard struggle of women slave to escape themselves from exploitation and sexual slavery that had been done by their masters based on their power relations. Mu’adah and Musaikah were two women slaves who fight against exploitation and sexual slavery that had been done by their master. The struggle of the two women slave was not only recorded by the Quran, but were also supported. In this context, Allah The Almighty said, “And force not your maids to prostitution, if they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain in the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), then after such compulsion, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to those women, i.e. He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil action unwillingly)”

Exploitation and sexual slavery can’t be separated from slavery system that had plucked out the humanity. The slavery against women was different with the slavery against men, because women slavery will be continued by many forms of violence, including sexual violence. The women who were slaved experienced many layers of violence, starting from physical violence, psychological violence and sexual violence. Therefore, the verse 33 of Surah An Nur immediately reminded the necessary of elimination of slavery. The verse also affirmed the obligation exploitation and sexual slavery which finally must be continued with the rehabilitation of the victims. 

The Quran and Prophet’s hadiths also mentioned various kinds of sexual violence such as sexual condemnation (qadzfu al-muhshanat), forced mariaged(al-ikrah ‘ala al-nikah), forced rape (al-Ikrah bi al-wath’i atau al-ikrah bi az-zina) and other forms of violence. The attention of the Quran to various kinds of sexual violence become a strong lesson learned that all forms of sexual violence in fact had degrades the humanity and human dignity so that must be ended and eliminated soon. Eliminating the sexual violence, including online Gender Based Violence (GBV) must be started from the roots that become the supporting factors of the emerging of sexual violence. The perspective that see men are superior, has to become leader, should be obeyed without critics, become the source of truth, become the indicator of piety and other views that put women in the marginal and subordinate position are the perspectives that potentially deliver gender based violence. Therefore, to build thoughts on the basis of equity, reciprocity, and substantive equality become an important agenda to minimize and furthermore to eliminate all forms of sexual violence. 

Islam and The Protection for Sexual Violence Victims

Within Islamic perspective, a criminal and violence acts can happen because of the fading of humanity values which had been given by God to everybody. Because of the humanity values, somebody is called by “human’. Through their humanity, people can, compassionate, protect, respect and help one another. If somebody do the violation, including online GBV, it means he or she has the problem with their humanity. Therefore, if somebody do the harmful and dangerous action to anybody else, Islam taught them for doing the “taubat” (repentence) and “islah” (reconciliation). Islam calls for the “taubat” and “islah”; not only for the perpetrator, but also for the victims. 

 Taubat literally has several meanings such as to come back or to return (raja’a). Coming back and returning to where? For the perpetrator, “taubah” means come back to humanity, because their humanity always fade away when they do the harmful and dangerous acts to other people. But “taubat” for the victims means returning back to the conditions before they become victims and this also means recovery of the victims. The recovery of the victims means to return them back to the condition before they become victims, whether physically, mentally, and socially. After the victims returning back to the previous condition, then the Quran suggest to do the islah (reconciliation). Islah is an action or effort to build the reconciliation and improvement. Islah is necessary to do because usually the victims were obstructed physically, mentally, and economically as long as they become victim and when doing the recovery process, including the victims of online GBV. Therefore reconciliation and improvement (islah) must be done soon after recovery of the victims for the material and immaterial compensation for the victims of their disadvantages. Islah necessitated the taubah, there no islah without taubat.

Therefore, in several verses in the Quran, Allah often included the issue of reconciliation and improvement after the repentance (taubat). The verse 5 of Surah An Nur told a story that accusing a good woman committing adultery was a big sin,  even though bigger than the sin of adultery itself. Because accusing a good woman committing adultery means degrading and destroying her human dignity. Accusing a good women committing adultery is a kind of verbal sexual harassment which had been prohibited.  The Quran affirmed that the perpetrator must do the repentance (taubat) soon by returning back the victims to the situation before being victimized,  and then doing the reconciliation and improvement of the victim situation. This also must be done to the victims of online GBV which increasingly happen nowadays. The victims has the rights to rehabilitation and recovery and after that obtaining the islah (reconciliation).

Prophet Muhammad PBUH also gave example on how he did the rehabilitation or recovery, especially mentally, socially, and economically for the victims of sexual violence. It was mentioned in several hadiths on how the Prophet pray for the corpse of a woman who became the victims of sexual violence after she punished by the stoning because of her own confession. Several companions of the Prophet said why the corpse of woman who committed to adultery must be prayed? But the Prophet remained pray her corpse which can be interpreted that he was rehabilitating the mental and social situation of the person by telling us that the victims of sexual violence should not experience revictimization and sterotype or labelling. The books of Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) also affirmed that women who experienced the sexual violence for example wath’i syubhat, so the perpetrator must give compensation (mahr) which are equal with the social position of the women who became victims. 

Informations that had been taken from the Quran, Sunnah and also the perspectives of the Fuqaha (Islamic Jurists) affirmed that the victims of sexual violence should be recovered and rehabilitated whether psycially, mentally, and socially, and she also has the rights to improve her economic and social life. Wallahu a’lam {}

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