No ‘religious factors’ justify marital rape

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We refer to the response made by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Hanipa Maidin in parliament on 30 October. Sisters in Islam (SIS) would like to remind the deputy minister that the Holy Qur’an demands that husbands treat their wives with kindness [4:19] and affection and mercy [30:21] and that they are meant to be protectors of each other [9:71].

The act of forcing sex onto their wives goes directly against Islamic teachings as marital rape is a form of physical abuse and mental torture.

According to the Congress of Indonesian Women Ulama (KUPI), sexual violence is the most brutal expression of the oppression, where the aim of sexual violence is to subdue, conquer or demonstrate dominance and power over the victim.

Violence is an expression of dominance in unequal power relationships, both inside the household and external to it, and cannot be considered an act of spontaneous, unintended wrongdoing (khilaf) by the perpetrator.

As marital rape is clearly not permissible in Islam, current practices are purely cultural in nature and cannot be attributed to ‘religious factors’. All and any allowance for rape (in and out of marriage) are in direct opposition to the Holy Qur’an’s intention to maintain equality in the relationship between husband and wife based on the spirit of love and compassion.

The deputy minister’s excuse that marital rape will be “difficult to prove in court,” is disgraceful and irresponsible as it implies that when an issue is deemed as “difficult”, it is okay for the government to just turn a blind eye to it.

Just because the deputy minister finds that the “chances of convictions” will be low, it does not negate the existence of such violence in our society and the suffering experienced by women trapped in such a predicament.

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