Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rape: What You’re Wearing Doesn’t Matter

From the Mole yesterday (excerpt):

Activists riled with Nik Aziz's remarks

KUALA LUMPUR: A human rights activist today described Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat's remarks that women who did not cover their aurat should blame themselves if they were raped, as "an old man’s way of blaming the women when it’s the man who has the problem of controlling themselves.

Irene Fernandez was responding to a three-year-old video clip of the Kelantan Menteri Besar who during a campaign on the virtues of covering the aurat had said: “Dah dia buka aurat. Dirogol. Padanlah muka dirogol. Dia jual murah-murah. (She did not cover herself. She got raped. Serves her right. She made herself cheap).”

According to Muslim theologians the aurat is parts of the body not permissible to be exposed. The 2008 footage was given a "new lease of life" when it was included in a documentary "Aku Siapa" by Norhayati Kaprawi shown at the much publicised documentary film festival Freedom Film Fest early this month.

The facts are actually quite different. The stats vary by country but in the majority of cases, rape is conducted by someone known to the victim. For example here and here (warning: pdf link)– in the US, only one third of rapists are strangers, in the UK the figure’s 8%. Between 25%-50% is actually rape by spouse or partner. In cases like those, your taste in clothes is unlikely to matter much.

And then I’m reminded of this survey taken a few years back in Egypt. Money quotes:

Egypt's sexual harassment 'cancer'

Sexual harassment of women in Egypt is on the increase and observing Islamic dress code is no deterrent, according to a survey published this week.

The Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR) describes the problem as a social cancer and calls on the government to introduce legislation to curb it.

The findings contradict the widely held belief in Egypt that unveiled women are more likely to suffer harassment than veiled ones...

...Perhaps nothing illustrates Egypt's loss of a moral compass than the responses of some men in the ECWR study.

Some said they harassed a woman simply because they were bored. One who abused a woman wearing the niqab said she must be beautiful, or hiding something.


  1. Agree with Hisham. The real problem with Malaysia is that too much attention is paid to one race and one religion with very little thinking involved.

  2. Beyond statistics and reasons, there is the moral argument. Its simply criminal in this day and age to to force sexual agression regardless of what the woman is wearing.

    The blacks from Africa had better resistance against heat and malaria while working at the cotton fields in the south of the US. However, its simply immoral for any human being to be the property of another human being. Such is the example of moral argument trumping reasons and excuses..

  3. 'The real problem with Malaysia is that too much attention is paid to one race and one religion with very little thinking involved.'

    Succinctly and summarily said. Heart of the entire sordid business of Malaysia, in fact.

    Meanwhile i hope studies will be done on the effects on human capital supply going forward from the increasing trend of women outnumbering men in local tertiary enrollments.

    Especially when they are expected to be subservient to other causes in some circles after they have come out to start their careers.


    Quick browse through suggests it's not as big of a problem as an imbalance tilted towards males.

  5. I wonder what they would have to say about male rape. Who would they blame themselves if they fell victim to it?

  6. Bit of a grey area, yes. About one in ten rape victims are male - and about 1 in 100 rapists are women.