The Jamat-e-Islami, and rape

Published: July 2, 2011

JI leader Munawwar Hassan

A viral video of Ameer Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Munawwar Hassan defending the silence over the rape of women and condoning imprisonment of female rape victims if they fail to produce four male witnesses in accordance with the Hudood Ordinance, has deeply outraged many sane people in Pakistan.

According to Hassan, if a woman cannot produce four male witnesses present at the time of her rape, she be imprisoned based on Hudood Ordinance and Shariah Law. This, he claims is in the best interest of women who are raped so if she fails to produce the witnesses she ought to refrain from filing an FIR altogether.

According to Hassan, somehow, it is in the best interest of the society for a woman to stay silent after being raped, while the perpetrator roams free.

I can’t help wonder if the leader would preach silence if a member of his family was attacked.

In the video, the Ameer inexplicably labels the Women’s Protection Bill as an effort to spread “vulgarity, nudity and shamelessness” in Pakistan, while demanding the seemingly intimidated anchor quote verses from the Holy Quran, who eventually has to descend into a monologue to prove his own Islamic credentials before being able to propose an argument to defend raped women. Interestingly, the Ameer himself fails to present any Quranic verse or Hadith to back his views.

The repugnant manner in which the host of the talk show is dismissed, and labeled an infidel for challenging the Holy Quran and Hadith, is a classic example of moral policing by self righteous Muslims in the country, who are masters at evading rationality.

I sincerely hope these morally, self righteous people read Maheen Usmani’s piece titled ‘Why the deafening silence after rape’ which cites horrific facts about rape in Pakistan including “Situation of Violence against Women in Pakistan 2010” by Aurat Foundation, according to which  a total of 4,069 cases occurred in Pakistan last year.

Every two hours, a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours, gang raped. And after all this, we are confronted with the reality that in this land, where the taste of justice for many is nothing but bland and vapid, 70 per cent of the crimes against women go unreported.

But how silly of those supporting the Women’s Protection Bill to seek greater freedom and protection of women in a society suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder regarding female sexuality, and the shame/honour dichotomy. The last thing then this country needs is rights for some 51 per cent of population.

We couldn’t give justice to Mukhtaran Mai and we haven’t spoken up eagerly on the media about justice for the courageous Kainat Soomro. And now, we slap inhumanity across their faces as well as thousands of others who couldn’t dare speak up about their plight. Perhaps it is inane in itself to expect justice for raped victims of Pakistan, a place where mothers are paraded naked for the crimes of their sons, or where many would tell you that the fault lies with women who provoke men into raping them.

Who are we expecting to speak up on the violation of a woman’s freedoms and rights?

I guess that only counts when the daughter of Pakistan, Afia Siddiqui is convicted.

This makes me ask:

What about the daughters back home?

Do these daughters not deserve justice and protection of their human dignity?

More than ever, there is need for action. We need more than just Facebook statuses condemning the barbaric judgments or there would be nothing to stop these long bearded caliphate dreaming morally self righteous ones from getting their way. Without confronting Munawwar Hassan and company, there is little hope for winning the war against fundamentalists.

The war, as we should have understood long ago, is not about bombs as much as mindsets, and that is certainly where billions of wasted dollars should have gone! It should have been fought in schools and madrassas, mosques and parliament.

There is nothing but pity for a society which can’t respect the very womb that gave birth to it. A two rupee roti might help us survive day after day, and the Lawyers Movement may restore the judges, but what can save a community from turning sub human and bestial that has not been taught the value of basic and incontrovertible freedoms and values.

Usmann Rana

Usmann Rana

A student and secularist living in Lahore

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.