In search of a solution to Rape

  • India stands at 3 in the world for the number of rapes in a year behind only to the U.S.A and South Africa.
  • Every 22 minutes one woman is raped in India. So approximately 65 women are raped in India every day.
  • 3 Dalit women are raped in some parts of India every day.
  • After Independence, crimes like murder, robbery, and kidnapping have increased by 106%, 27%, and 298% respectively. Rape rates have increased by a staggering 792%. This means that rape rates have increased almost 9 times since 1947. 

Reference: National Crimes Records Bureau

What is the solution?

Solutions to any disease whether it is social or physical will be effective only if the root causes of the problem are taken into consideration and analyzed. Let’s take the example of a headache. A headache can be caused by different reasons like the common cold, eye defect, brain tumor, sinusitis, lack of sleep, hunger or thirst, etc. A good doctor will determine the cause of the headache before he attempts to treat it. Similarly, for us to find effective solutions to rapes, we need to identify the root causes and eliminate them.

Different types of rapes

Before we begin our search for solutions to rapes, an understanding of the different types of rapes will prove beneficial. Rapes are commonly classified into the following categories based on the motive behind this evil act.

1. Power Rape – Rape committed by people in power to establish supremacy and dominance over the victim. Example: Rapes by police, military force, rapes during riots, etc.

2. Anger Rape – Rape is committed to showing anger or venting feelings of anger on the victim.

3. Sadistic Rape – Rape is committed as an act of sadism, to derive pleasure from the suffering of the victim.

3. Sexual Rape – Rape is committed to satisfying sexual desire at the expense of the victim.

From the above, it is evident that sexual desire or libido is not, as commonly believed, always the motive behind rapes or sexual assaults. A sexual crime committed as a result of sexual desire is only one of four reasons that can trigger an assault.

Primary Causes that trigger Rape

We cannot solve the problem of rape without knowing what is triggering it. The triggers of rape are:

Alcohol

It is commonly known that many incidents of rape have occurred when the assailant was under the influence of alcohol, which makes this one of the most serious triggers of sexual crimes. It is common knowledge that alcohol changes the normal behavior of a person. A person under the influence of alcohol can do unthinkable things which he would not do otherwise. This is because alcohol causes “disinhibition”

in the brain by affecting the motor, instinctual, emotional, cognitive, and perceptual aspects. Disinhibition is characterized by three behaviors namely:

1. Hypersexuality – sudden increase in sexual urge

2. Hyperphagia – increased hunger or appetite

3. Aggressiveness

Any person who reads the behavior traits of “Disinhibiton” can easily comprehend the connection between alcohol and sexual crimes. The risk of sexual crimes being committed under the influence of alcohol is great and this makes alcohol one of the biggest triggers of rape and other sexual crimes.

Pornography and Profanity

Robin Morgan’s phrase “Pornography is the theory–rape is the practice” captures the explicit link between pornography and sexual crimes against women. Studies by behavioral scientists reveal that viewing of pornography can serve as a source of “vivid sexual fantasy” which may lead men into perversion and may produce many negative sociological effects. To know more about this, one may read the books: “Effects of Prolonged Consumption of Pornography” and “Sexual Deviation as Conditioned Behavior: A Hypothesis”.

We are aware that there is an evident increase in profanity in society. Movies and even advertisements on TV, newspapers, magazines, and hoardings on the road are not spared from it. With the constant bombardment of profanity everywhere, the minds of people, especially the youth, are polluted. 

With pornography and profanity changing the view of normal and healthy sexual behavior, there are immediate risks involved. When distorted and unhealthy views of sexuality become the norm, we should not be surprised by its undesired consequences. 

View on women

One of the most important social factors that can be linked to sexual crimes is society’s view on women. Many in our society look at women as lesser beings and objects of lust. In addition to these degrading views on women, we also witness the rape victims being blamed for the rape. To say “If the woman had not dressed like this or done this, she would not have been raped” is tantamount to saying “If the shop-owner did not have supplies or money in the cash register he would not have been robbed”. 

Unfortunately, the degrading view on women and narrow understanding of sexual crimes are found at all levels of the society. It is shocking to see learned men of high social ranking making irresponsible and disgusting statements about women and the sexual crimes affecting women. Entertainment industry too contributes to the disrespectful view on women by making movies that make fun of “Rape” and justify “stalking” by depicting it as an act of romance. 

The social stigma that our society attaches to a rape victim prevents many victims to come forward and lodge a complaint against the rapist. The social stigma is so bad that the government has made it illegal for the media to report the name of the rape victim. The unsympathetic attitude of blaming and shaming the rape victim must be changed. The burden of guilt and shame should fall only on the assailant and not on the victim. To prevent a continued escalation of crimes against women we have to change how women are viewed in society. 

Law

Although the law considers rape a crime and the rapist to be a criminal, the effect of law as a deterrent to rape is minimal. The statistics of rape convictions in India reveal that. In 1971 the conviction rate for rape in India was at a low 41%. If one thinks that was low, then note that the conviction rate for rapes has become worse and was only 26% in 2010. It is shocking to know that the conviction rate for rapes against Dalit women is only 3%. One has to wonder what message these low conviction rates send to those who consider committing rape. 

Justice delayed is Justice denied” is a well known principle of law. While the rate of convictions is bad enough, the extreme slowness of the trial and the delayed Judgments makes the situation even worse. With such low conviction rates and delayed justice, how do we expect the rape rates to decrease? 

Lack of God Consciousness

Reading “lack of God consciousness” as one of the causes of rape may surprise many. The truth of the matter is, if someone capable of committing sexual crimes does not have to fear the law or the society, nothing will stop him from committing this evil act. Take for example: Power rape. The perpetrators of such power rapes do not have to fear the law or the society, as they go unpunished and continue to lead a normal life like any other. What then will prevent such people from committing power rapes? Unless these people feel accountability to God for their actions, nothing will prevent them from committing an evil deed like rape when the opportunity presents itself. 

Past attempts to find solutions

Throughout the last five decades, several learned people have attempted to find solutions to eradicate the heinous crime and social plague called rape. The solutions proposed have varied from stricter laws to teaching Karate to women. The Verma Commission report was submitted by the former Hon. Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, late Mr. Verma.

If we were to carefully analyze the solutions proposed, we can see that the proposed solutions ignore the root causes of rape and the ways to deal with different types of rapes. Even the 600 odd page report of Verma Commission does not speak about eradicating the triggers like alcohol, pornography and profanity.

While we agree that each and every attempt made to eradicate rape deserves appreciation, we need to realize that if the proposed solution does not deal with the root causes of rape, the solution will be only as effective as a medicine prescribed by a doctor who ignored the root causes of the disease.

Do we have a Solution?

One might ask “Do we have the right solution for rape?” Yes! Islam provides the solution to eradicate rape. You may think “Islam is just a religion, what has it got to do with solutions for rape?” The answer is: Islam is a dharma – a way of life, given by God to the whole of humanity and this way of life includes solutions to all the problems faced by humanity, including rape. We would like to quickly take you through the basics of Islam.

What is Islam?

Islam is not a new religion founded by Prophet Muhammad. Islam is an Arabic word that means complete obedience and submission to God (‘Sharanaagati’ in Sanskrit and Kannada). It is the same Dharma – way of life that God ordained for the first human being on earth. It is the same way of life taught by all the Prophets of God – Maha Rishis. Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet of God who revived the way of life ordained by God.

Who is a Muslim?

Anyone who obeys God and lives a life of obedience to God is called a Muslim in Arabic. A person does not become a Muslim because of his name or because he is born in a particular family. If you obey God and worship Him alone, you are called a Muslim in Arabic. 

Who is Allah?

Allah is not a Muslim God. “Allah” in Arabic language means “The God”. For example: Water is English. Paani is Hindi. Neeru is Kannada, Moya is Arabic. Same way, God is English, Ishwar is Hindi, Devaru is Kannada and Allah is Arabic. 

Why should God tell us the solution for rape?

Some might ask “As intelligent beings, can’t humans decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong and come up with solutions for our problems? Why should we depend on God to find solutions for matters like rape?” It is a very valid question. Let us think about this.

Only God can provide us with Perfect Guidance

The manufacturer knows best about the product he manufactures. To give an example; vehicles work best with the oil, spare parts etc recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Even if it is a simple thing like air pressure of the wheels, we follow what the manufacturer says. One wonders why? It is our vehicle. We own it and we use it. Why not use it the way we want? Why not change the air pressure of the wheel depending on our mood that day?

We trust that the vehicle maker knows what is best for the vehicle. We trust the manufacturer of the products even for trivial things. If this is the case with man made products, how about a complex creature like humans?

If we may call human beings a machine, we are the most complex machine on earth because of our emotions and capability to think. God being Our creator, knows exactly what is good for us and has prescribed a way of life which was taught to us by the Messengers of God and the scriptures revealed by Him. Going astray from the guidance of God, would lead to chaos and destruction and that is exactly what we are experiencing today.

Islam’s solution to Rape

The solution proposed by Islam deals with all the root causes of rape and other sexual crimes. This is exactly why it is the best solution. If adopted by humans throughout the world, the Islamic solution would decrease these horrible crimes in a profound manner. As you will see below, Islam’s solution to rape eliminates all the triggers to rape.

1. Prohibition of Alcohol

God prohibits alcohol in the Quran in Chapter 5: Verse 90 where it says:

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful”.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said:

“Alcohol is the key to all evils”. 

There is absolutely no place for alcohol in a state or country where the Dharma of God is established.

2. Prohibition of Profanity and Pornography

God prohibits all shameful deeds and there is no place for profanity and pornography. To watch pornography or be part of any profanity, either to watch, listen to or speak, is strictly forbidden in Islam. 

God says in Quran, Chapter 16: Verse 90:

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression.” 

3. Respectful view on women

Islam teaches humanity to respect and honor women. There are critics who claim that women in Islam are oppressed. On the contrary, a careful reading of the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) would show that Islam liberated women and granted them rights that were not even thought of 14 centuries ago. 

The degrading view on women starts with the parents’ dislike for female children. 

God in the Quran admonishes people who dislike female children. God says in Chapter 16: Verses 58 and 59:
 “And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” 

God in the Quran teaches that women compliment men. 

“They (women) are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” Chapter 2: Verse 187.

God speaks about the responsibilities and actions of men and women in equal terms. 

“Never will I allow the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.” Chapter 3: Verse 195.

About the rights of women, Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said:

“Fear God regarding women. You have got rights over them, and they have got rights over you"

Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) declared: 

“The best of you are they who behave best to their women".

4. Islam enacted laws that suit the nature of men and women

The principle of enacting rules and laws that suit the different genders is well understood. Example: We never demand or expect a female athlete to compete with a male athlete in a 100 meters race. The same holds good with other sports that involve physical activities. None of us call this as inequality or discrimination of sexes because we all understand the difference in the physical nature of men and women. 

Unfortunately, in the name of liberating women and granting them equality, many modern societies have shown a reckless attitude by nurturing environments and enacting laws that do not take into consideration the difference in nature of men and women. This has led to severe consequences like increased sexual crimes, broken families, abortions, marital infidelity etc. 

Amnesty International stated in a 2004 report entitled “Stop Violence against Women” that every 90 seconds a woman was raped during that year. According to the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), which is the largest American national organization against sexual assault, every two minutes there is a sexual assault in America, which means that sexual assaults in one year numbers 2,07,754.

Islam enacted laws that suit the nature of men and women. It is important to note that while Islam treats men and women equally, it does not consider them to be identical. Men and women are different physically, psychologically and emotionally. Hence, the famous author John Gray wrote “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. 

God says in the Quran in  Chapter 3: Verse 36:

“And the male is not like the female.” 

In aspects where both men and women are equal, Islam treats them equal by instituting identical laws and in aspects where men and women are different, Islam has instituted laws that suit the nature of men and women and thus nurturing a balanced and healthy society.

5.  Strict Moral Codes for both men and women

Islam prescribes strict moral codes for both men and women and holds each of them responsible to guard their chastity. God says in the Quran, 

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts (from committing fornication, rape and adultery). That is purer for them. Indeed, God is well aware of what they do.”  Chapter 24: Verse 30.
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.” Chapter 24: Verse 31.

As you can see from the verses above, God instructs the men first before He instructs the women. Many think the dress code is only for women and not for men. God prescribes dress codes for both men and women and instructs them to dress modestly.  

Dress code for men and women:

God instructs both men and women to wear dresses that are:

1. Loose and not figure revealing or ‘Skin-tight and body-hugging’.

2. Not transparent or see-through.

3. Not imitating the dress of the opposite sex or cross dressing.

4. Decent and covers the body parts that need to be covered.

While the first three points mentioned above are common for both men and women, the extent of the body that requires it to be covered (point 4) is different for men and women. A man is instructed to mandatorily cover from navel to knees while a woman is instructed to mandatorily cover her whole body except her hands and face. You can read about Hijab here.

Are all men bad?

Some may argue, women’s freedom to dress the way they want should not be restricted since not all men are bad and not all women who are dressed “liberally” are raped. True, not all men are bad. Most men who look at scantily dressed women stop with sight. Some go beyond sight and fantasize. Some may pass some lewd comments. Some will go beyond that by stalking and if the situation favors them some will molest and rape. It is those few men whom we are worried about. 

To give an example: we lock our houses when we go out of town. Why do we do that? Is it because we think our neighbors and all who walk by our streets are thieves? We all know that the majority of the people are good and the robbers are few, yet we lock our houses to protect them from those few robbers. What would you think of a person who asks “Why should I spend on locks to protect my house because of some robbers? Just because my house is open does not mean they can rob?”  Will you call this a sane argument? If no, why not a modest dress which protects the women’s honour from the lustful and lowly eyes of those few men? 

We assure you that the obligation of Hijab in Islam is not because Islam accuses every woman who does not wear Hijab of being immoral, or because all men will look at her as a focus for their wickedness and desires. But Islam does not look only at the majority of people; rather it pays attention to the fact that there are also a small percentage of evildoers. In order to protect the well-being of the majority from the evil actions of the minority, it has enacted moral guidelines that will significantly reduce these undesirable occurrences of sexual crimes.

The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhiji said in a public meeting in Pune on 5/3/1927:

“I don’t mind any women, even my wife, breaking stones and cleaning latrines, but I certainly want none whatsoever to cast a lustful eye on my sister or mother”.

6. Prohibition for a woman to be alone with a man who is not her close relative

Islam forbids a woman to be alone with men that are not close relatives like her father, brother, uncle, husband etc. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said:

“Whenever a man is alone with a woman (he is not related to or married to) the Satan (Devil) is the third."

According to the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. If every woman were to follow the guidance of God by avoiding being alone with a man (even if she knows him well), the risk of rapes committed by an assailant known to the woman is heavily reduced. 

Sexual harassment happens everywhere from schools to courts. No industry is spared from this evil. Hence, we read and hear every day about sexual harassment by colleagues, superiors, teachers and even Judges. 

Award winning US documentary called “The invisible war” (it was nominated for Oscars) captures the monster of sexual harassment and rape in the US Military. The documentary estimates the incidents of sexual harassment and rape in the US Military to be at 19,000 in the year 2010 alone, while the Department of Defense processed only 3,198 with just 244 convictions. Even the prestigious regiment “Marine Barracks”, which guards the ‘White House’ was not spared from this evil of rape. 

If this is the plight of military women who are trained in self-combat, one can imagine the situation of women in schools and workplaces. Islam deals with this by prohibiting unnecessary mixing of women and men whether it is at school or work place and thus reducing the opportunities that may lead to molestation and rape.

7. Focus on God Consciousness and Accountability to God

Islam instills God Consciousness by teaching that each one of us is accountable to God for our actions in this world. Islam teaches that the world will come to an end one day. All the human beings from the first man to the last will be brought back to life on the Day of Judgment and will be questioned for their deeds. God will weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds, and pronounce His judgment on us accordingly. Even the smallest of our deeds will be taken into account on the Day of Judgment. You can read more about “Life after death” here.

Only fear of accountability to God will prevent someone from committing such heinous crimes at all times, even if the situation favors them. If military men, police, and the people who indulge in rapes during riots have the fear of accountability to God, would they dare to commit this heinous act? Fear of accountability to God will make them realize that though they may get away with their evil act in this world, God will bring them to task and punish them on the Day of Judgment. Only God consciousness can reform a person to the fullest and prevent him from committing power rapes.

9. Harsh punishments

Despite the implementation of all the solutions mentioned above, if a person dares to commit the evil act of rape, Islamic law punishes the rapist with death penalty. Islam prescribes swiftness of the trials in the court, thus ensuring that the judgment is pronounced and executed as soon as the crime is proved. The death penalty is to be witnessed by the people in the society. This clearly shows the seriousness of rape in the sight of God. 

How can a civilized society allow the death sentence?

Some may feel that the death sentence is barbaric and there are many who call for the abolishment of the death sentence. To know the necessity of the death sentence, we need to understand the objectives of punishment. We all know that punishment will not undo the suffering of the rape victim. Then, why do we punish the rapist? Punishment is pronounced for three main reasons:

1) Punishment should prevent the rapist from committing the rape again

2) The threat of punishment should deter people from engaging in rape

3) The victim should feel that there was retribution to the rapist and she was rendered justice.

Let us see if the death penalty (Islamic punishment for rape) serves the above objectives.

Punishment should prevent the rapist from committing the rape again – This is met as the rapist will not live to commit rape again. 

The threat of punishment should deter people from engaging in rape – This is also met as the severity of the punishment, the speed of the trial and the manner of execution will definitely act as a deterrent for others.

The victim should feel that there was retribution to the rapist and she was rendered justice – This is definitely met as the rape victims ask for death penalty for their rapists. Example: Mumbai Journalist Rape victim and the parents of Nirbhaya (Delhi rape victim).

Nirbhaya`s father demands death penalty for accused

What about other punishments for rape?

One has to wonder if other forms of punishment for rapes meet the objectives mentioned above. For sure, life sentences do not deter people from committing the crime and the victims are left unsatisfied with the punishment. God forbid, if the rape victim were to be you or your mother or sister or wife, will you accept if the government uses your tax money to: feed the rapist three times a day, provide him free medical treatment and entertain him with one movie a week? If your answer is no, then that is exactly what happens in the prison for a rapist who serves life imprisonment.

Conclusion

God, Who has Infinite Knowledge about His Creations, prescribed laws and guidelines that give solutions to all the problems faced by mankind, including rape. The Islamic solution to the problem of rape is practical and yields results. You may disagree with the solution proposed by Islam and it is your privilege to do so. We just ask, do you have an alternate solution that is better, practical and that can yield results? 

The moment we have a gruesome and horrible rape incident, we can hear voices to punish the rapists with death sentence. Islam too prescribes death sentence for rapists but there is a difference of chalk and cheese between the two. Islam prescribes death penalty for rapists after enacting laws to close all the doors for rape, while people want death sentence for the rapists who live in a society that has opened all the doors to rape by turning a blind eye to its root causes. Which solution is more rational and just? You be the judge.

What is the meaning of Swaraj (Independence), so long as a single woman is dying of starvation, so long as she can be robbed of her honour by any common man?” – Mahatma Gandhiji