Fiqh Academy VP condemns Sexual Offenses Bill for conditional criminalisation of marital rape

Dr Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef, Vice President of the Maldives Fiqh Academy has condemned the recently passed Sexual Offenses Bill for conditional recognition of marital rape as a crime, and advised members of People’s Majlis who voted for the bill to repent.

Answering a question requesting for comments on the bill Dr Iyaz said on “” – a local Islamic Questions and Answers website – that it is a great religious obligation upon the wife to give the husband his “marital rights” when he is in need of it.

“With the exception of forbidden forms of sexual intercourse, such as during menstrual periods and anal intercourse, it is not permissible under any circumstance for a woman to refrain from it when the husband is in need.” Quoting a Hadith (sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad) he said a woman should respond to her husband “even if she was at the kitchen stove”.

Warning of the dangers of denying it, Iyaz quoted another Hadith which states that if a husband spends the night angry with his wife, “angels will curse the woman till daylight”.

However he instructed men to be gentle with women if a health issue is causing her pain, and said in such cases women will not be cursed by angels.

The bill does not generally recognise marital rape, but it makes four exceptions where marital rape is recognised;

1. while a case for dissolution of the marriage is in a court
2. while the divorce filed by either husband or wife is pending a court
3. sexual intercourse to intentionally transmit a sexually transmitted disease
4. during a mutually agreed separation (without divorce)

Among these, the conditions and penalties for the first situation are lenient in contrast to the other three exceptions. Marital rape under normal circumstances will not be recognised as a crime even if the bill is ratified.

Referring to the conditions outlined, Dr Iyaz said that even if a woman has filed for divorce, she must still show “complete obedience to her husband”, including in having sexual intercourse with him.

The same will apply, he said, even after divorce during i’ddah (waiting period) following a revocable divorce. In case of such a divorce the man can resume the marriage by simply having sexual intercourse with her, and the woman’s consent is not necessary in resuming the marriage, he said.

However, Iyaz noted that the woman has a right to raise the issue with a judge if the man’s intention of resuming the marriage seem to be abuse.

Dr Iyaz – who is currently campaigning for People’s Majlis Hulhuhenveiru seat – said that penalties clearly stated in Islamic Shariah, such as flogging and stoning to death, cannot be replaced. “No legislative assembly has the authority to change that”.

Concluding his answer he advised everyone who voted for the bill to repent.

The bill, passed by the People’s Majlis on 30 December 2013, states that it is not a replacement for Shariah and if there is a Shariah penalty for an offense covered by the bill, it shall be applied along with the Shariah penalty.

It was drafted and proposed by Kulhudhufushi Dhekunu MP Mohamed Nasheed in October 2012, and is now awaiting ratification by the president after which it will come into force. It  covers sexual offences ranging from adultery, sexual acts between two people of the same sex, with family member, animals and even corpses.

A 2007 study by Ministry of Gender and Family revealed that in Maldives 58.2% women agree that they are obliged to have sex with their husbands even if they don’t want to and 29.3% women that took part in the study believed it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife for refusing sex.