Rape victim told to wed the accused father of her husband

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 12:00am

A Muslim woman allegedly raped by her father-in-law has been ordered to marry him in the latest bizarre ruling by male-dominated religious councils in India.

Clerics in Chatharwal village declared that 28-year-old Imrana should marry her father-in-law because, under Islamic law, the rape this month had nullified her 10-year marriage. She was ordered to treat her husband as her 'son' since she would marry his father.

Imrana, a mother of five, was told to first go to her family home for seven months and 10 days and make herself 'pure' again before marrying her father-in-law.

But unlike most Muslim women in the villages who submit to such rulings by religious councils, Ms Imrana went to the police to lodge a criminal complaint against her alleged assailant and said she would defy the ruling and continue living with her husband.

'My husband supports me and I am ready to defy the panchayat [council],' Ms Imrana said. In another part of Uttar Pradesh this month, clerics in the town of Barhapur-Nagina ordered a strict ban on any 'potential corrupting influence on female minds that threatens to violate Islamic tenets'.

They have thrown into this category several everyday activities - watching television, visiting friends, going to the market or cinema and listening to music.

The ruling came from the clerics of 14 mosques, who told men in the area that they had to ensure their wives, sisters and mothers behaved like 'honest' women. The clerics have set up a monitoring committee and promise harsh punishment for any infraction.

'For some years now, mullahs have realised that they're losing their influence over Muslims, their voices are no longer feared and automatically obeyed. These rulings are just random manifestations of their frustration,' said Khaled Hussain, a Muslim commentator with a local newspaper.

In yet another ruling earlier this year that sparked a nationwide outcry, village clerics interfered in the unusual case of a young woman, Gudia, whose first husband Arif, a soldier, had gone missing.

After waiting for five years and presuming that he was dead, she married again. She was shocked when Arif resurfaced earlier this year and demanded her back - but said he would not be a father to the baby she was expecting.

Gudia decided to stay with her second husband. 'It's not a joke, you know, going from one husband to another, and I'm carrying his baby.' Later, she obeyed the clerics' ruling that Islamic law required she return to her first husband.