Sexual Violence Between Married Couples Haram, Clerics Say

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Upholding women's rights: A female cleric from Saudi Arabia, Hatoon Al Fassi (right), gives a lecture during the International Seminar of the Women's Ulema at Syekh Nurjati Islamic Institute in Cirebon, West Java, on April 25. (Antara/Dedhez Anggara)

Female Muslim clerics attending an Indonesian women's ulema congress in Cirebon, West Java, issued on Thursday a fatwa that says sexual violence isharam (forbidden under Islamic law), even if it occurs between married couples.

“All forms of sexual violence are haram for both married and unmarried couples. Islam and the Constitution have guaranteed that all people must be protected from sexual violence,” said Priyati, a female cleric from Jakarta, on Thursday.

According to the fatwa, sexual violence is against the people’s hifd an nafs(right to life), hifd al irdhu (rights of freedom and being respected) and hifd an nasl (rights to reproduce), all of which are the rights that are guaranteed under Islamic law, which is in line with the 1945 Constitution.

The fatwa also declares that zina (adultery or a sexual act outside a marriage) is different than rape. Zina occurs when both men and women are willing to have sexual intercourse. Meanwhile, rape is a situation when someone is forced to have sex, in which their refusal does not need to be explained in a statement, it says.

“Thus, rape victims must not receive punishment,” Priyati said.

The National Commission of Violence Against Women revealed 16,217 cases of sexual violence across Indonesia throughout 2016, sharply increasing from 11,207 cases in 2015.

Female cleric Ninik Rahayu said they are hopeful that women sexually assaulted by their husbands would now report the violence to the police following the implementation of the fatwa.

“All this time they have remained silent because they considered it not to be sexual violence if it was treatment they received from their own husbands,” she said. (Nurul Fitri Ramadhani), April 27, 2017