A 28-year-old woman from Muzaffarnagar, India is being subjected to public humiliation after reporting a sexual assault case.
The unnamed woman’s husband moved to Delhi for work two years ago. Ever since he left, the woman’s father-in-law has been sexually assaulting her at gunpoint. Until now, the woman was too afraid to report the abuse, India TV News reports. She says her father-in-law promised he would kill her if she ever did. He also recorded incidents of the abuse and vowed to release them to the public if she reported him.
The woman’s husband has been of no help. He says his wife is lying and trying to smear his father’s name. After counseling with her parents, the woman reported the sexual assault to her district magistrate. She filed an application calling for her father-in-law’s arrest and requesting permission to abort her current pregnancy stemming from the assault.
Shortly after she filed the request, the local Muslim clergy intervened and said her claim was invalid. The clergy said that since she was raped and impregnated by her father-in-law, she is now his wife and her husband is now her son. Because of this change, they argued, the baby in her womb is her husband’s sibling.
Clergymen Maulana Mohammad Nazar says that “As per the Sharia law, the baby in her womb is her husband’s brother. Her husband must divorce her, even if his father looked at his wife with lust.”
The case is eerily similar to a 2007 case involving a woman named Imrana. In that case, clergy declared her marriage null and void because she was raped by her father-in-law.
Just as they did in 2007, advocates argue that local clerics are distorting Sharia law.
All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (ALMWPLB) president Shaista Ambar slams the clergy and magistrate as blatantly anti-woman.
"It is a case of rape in which the father-in-law should be arrested and killed in full public view. The AIMPLB should be dissolved because it has failed to provide justice to women," Ambar furiously told India Today. "I heard some cleric saying that the husband of the victim would now be treated as her son because she has had a relationship with her father-in-law. They are misinterpreting the Sharia (law). As per the Islamic law, a nikah solemnises [the relationship of a couple] when a man and woman accept each other as husband and wife before a Qazi. But these clerics are trying to say that anybody can make a woman his wife by raping her. This is not only ridiculous but also a criminal act of supporting a rapist.”
The case is ongoing.