Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Trifecta of Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Muslim Communities – Debunking False Statements




“If she just wore hijab/niqab, she wouldn’t get harassed or raped …”

This line, often uttered to dismiss cases of rape where the victims did not observe hijab, is one that is not only false, but completely fails to understand the true meaning, role and purpose of hijab.

No doubt, hijab is indeed an obligation in Islam; it is a command from Allah and should be observed by believing women[1]. There are Divine Wisdoms behind its obligation, and in some cases, it can deter a certain type of attention.

However, it is not a force field that physically prevents a rapist from raping his victim. Modest dressing cannot prevent rape or lewd behavior from the abuser. Nor should we ever expect a person whose heart and soul are so corrupted that they would dare to commit such a crime in the first place, to feel deterred merely by some extra layers of fabric. Numerous women have been sexually assaulted and raped while wearing their hijab.

One sister — a convert who wears the hijab and relied upon a small group of other Muslims to be her “community” — shared the following:

“… I thought it was weird for him to sit so close to me, but I didn’t really think anything of it. He’s a “good boy.” Prays five times a day. Ten years my senior and a PhD student at my university. Super intelligent. Calls his mother (who lives overseas) every day despite time zone differences. Meets all the markers of a good person. But I don’t think I’ve ever been alone with him before this.

We were just talking, he paused and pulled me on top of him. Suddenly I was laying on him, and he was holding me against him tightly. I was super freaked out, but I laughed and was like, “[name], stop! What are you doing?” Obviously, I tried to push against him to get off, but he flipped me, so I was pinned underneath him in a matter of seconds, and he was straddling me. He ripped off my hijab, pulled up my shirt and bra and started to bite my breasts.

I was completely in shock and tried to reason with him to stop. He said something like he’s seen how I look at him (???) and he knows I want him (?????). Completely, absolutely, disgustingly false.

He held my hands down when I tried to push him off, and I began to fight him with everything I had in me. He pulled down my pants and started to penetrate me with his fingers. By then I was crying, and I kept on telling him over and over to stop, but he said to just let him do it. “If you really don’t like it then why are you so wet?”

I was terrified and never felt so much like I’ve lost control of my body before. I remember just repeating his name endlessly, as if he would somehow hear his name and wake up and realize what he’s doing. I’ve never been intimate with a man even consensually, so it was beyond overwhelming. Eventually he said, “Relax, it’s not like I’m going to rape you.” And he stopped.

I never figured out what the heck he meant by that. Did he not realize what he just did?!? I put my clothes back on as fast as I could, and I left. I haven’t told anybody. I saw him once on campus by chance, and I felt like I was having a heart attack. For a few weeks after, he kept on texting me and asking how I was and stuff. I never responded. Throughout the entire ordeal and after, I get the feeling that he truly doesn’t think he did something wrong.

This was about three months ago, and none of my friends who were there with me even know. I feel like maybe I should tell the girls at least, so they can watch out for him, but they would never be so stupid to hang out with a man alone in his apartment. I do worry that they would judge me for it. My friends think I’m weird for never hanging out with them whenever I know he’s around, but I don’t know if they’ve put it together. It’s certainly distanced me from them in some regards. I’m a convert and my closest family lives a plane flight away, so these friends are really the only community I have.

I’ve thought about it literally every day. All the time. I’ve prayed and tried to find the same peace in my body as I did before, but it’s so difficult. I find myself wanting to make wudu over and over, and I never really feel pure again.”


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