Rape victims, society's attitude

Q560 :You have mentioned recently that a woman who faces rape is not required to sacrifice her life to escape the advances of the rapist. Your answer is well appreciated. May I ask for further clarification, what if the woman conceives as a result of this barbaric act? Who has claim to the child? Is she allowed to have an abortion? What should be the attitude of her husband and the community? Sometimes a victim of rape is rejected not only by her husband, but also by the community and even by her parents. In such cases, she is made to suffer endlessly. Please explain.


A560 : The considered ruling is that which I have explained in the past and to which you have correctly referred. If a woman is assaulted by a man and she finds herself facing a real threat of death, she is not to be blamed for being raped. It is impossible to rationalize in advance the behavior and reaction of a woman who finds herself in such a situation. What we should say is that a woman who faces attack by a rapist should try to defend herself with all possible means. She should not and need not kill herself. If, however, she kills the rapist, she simply acts in self-defense and she is not to be blamed for killing him. If he kills her, she is a martyr. If the rapist overpowers her despite her efforts to repel him, she cannot be considered guilty of anything. Neither her family nor the community should be too harsh against her even though she may become pregnant as the result of rape. It is unfortunate that some victims of rape are treated as if they are guilty. If we are to be candid about such situations, we have to admit that such attitude is the result of a subconscious suspicion that the victim have had a share of the guilt in the affair. In Islam, we do not judge people on the basis of suspicion. We only judge them on the basis of clear evidence. If the victim of rape becomes pregnant as a result of being assaulted, she needs not have an abortion. Indeed, the same rules which apply to all cases of pregnancy apply to her with regard to the permissibility or otherwise of having an abortion. As I have explained in the past, abortion is allowed when the continuation of pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Apart from that, a small minority of schools of thought allow abortion in very early pregnancy, but the considered opinion of the overwhelming majority of scholars, over many centuries, is that deliberate abortion is forbidden from the moment of conception, unless the continued pregnancy presents a danger to the mother's health. There is a general rule which applies to other cases of suspected parenthood. It states that "The child belongs to the man on whose bed it is born, while the adulterer bites the dust." On the basis of this rule, if a married woman is a victim of rape and she gets pregnant, her husband is the father of her child. If she is not married, she brings the child up and the rapist again "bites the dust". A community which casts a stigma on the victim of rape, must consider its attitude. If there is blame to be attached, it is not to the victim but to the community for failing to provide adequate protection to prevent crimes of rape altogether.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )