A cleric who said a man forcing his wife to have sex was not raping her has been criticised by a government minister.
Dr. Muhammed Iyaz Abdul Latheef is a state-licensed scholar who runs an Islamic question and answer group on the messaging app Viber. When asked if it was considered rape if a husband forcefully has sex with his wife, he replied no.
It was later asked in the group why it was not rape and the answer given was: “Because he is a halal (permissible) man. The wife has to have sex with the husband every time he wants it (unless she is menstruating or experiencing postpartum bleeding).”
A screenshot of the exchange has gone viral.
Minister of State for Home Affairs and former vice president of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives Shifaq Mufeed said such religious rulings should not be allowed.
“Shouldn’t give a fatwa that could destroy family environments and community stability even if you’re a sheikh, [the answer] goes against laws implemented in Maldives within the tenets of Islam,” he tweeted.
The Penal Code states that while marital rape exists, the burden of proof rests on the victim as the judge is asked to presume that consent exists unless it is proved otherwise.
The Sexual Offences Act specifies circumstances that could be considered marital rape including death threats, during divorce proceedings or one partner having a sexually transmitted disease.
Iyaz has previously condemned the Sexual Offences Act for conditional recognition of marital rape as a crime, and advised MPs who voted for the bill to repent. He has also endorsed female genital mutilation.
The public Viber page ‘Islamic Knowledge Q&A’ has more than 7,000 followers.