Qatar: Rape victims accused of sex outside marriage, face up to a year in prison and 100 lashes

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Numerous rape victims are in prison in Pakistan as well. From the perspective of Islamic law, if they tempted men to rape them, they are at fault, and must be punished. The rape must also have been public, since four male Muslim witnesses are required to have witnessed the act in order to establish it in Sharia court (cf. Qur’an 24:4, 24:14).

“The land where raped women end up being at fault: Sexual violence victims ‘can easily become the accused’ in Qatar due to government’s extreme view of Islamic law, campaigners warn,” by Ian Gallagher, Mail On Sunday, October 9, 2021:

…Campaigners say victims of sexual violence ‘can easily become the accused’ in the authoritarian Gulf state, due to the government’s extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

Many cases have emerged of men being taken at their word claiming sex was consensual, leaving the accuser facing charges of having sex outside of marriage. Punishments for the crime of ‘zina’ – any act of illicit intercourse – normally involve a year in prison and, if the woman is Muslim, up to 100 lashes.

Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Mail on Sunday of her fears that zina laws will be brought into focus at next year’s World Cup….

Around the time Qatar began lobbying for the rights to the World Cup, stories about women punished under zina laws stopped appearing in state-run papers. Since then, Qatar has sought to gloss over anything that might present a negative image.

In March, a report by Human Rights Watch highlighted discrimination through the male guardianship system, which requires them to seek male approval to marry, study or travel. It says Qatari women face ‘deep discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives’. Examples abound. A British woman abandoned by her Qatari husband told the MoS that she is unable to return to the UK with their children because he refuses to give his permission.

The woman, who lives in Doha, said: ‘Society and the law are on his side. It always favours the man, yet he was abusive during our marriage and beat me up for some perceived slight. He hasn’t seen me or the kids for years yet still exerts this power over me. I am trapped here. I tried to get a divorce but it was dismissed. If I went to the airport with my children, I would be arrested.’

In 2019, Noof al-Maadeed, then 21, escaped Qatar after years of domestic abuse. She said she was ‘only allowed to go to school and back. Anything else [and I could] expect a beating’.

Unmarried women under 25 cannot travel abroad without the permission of their male guardian. But Maadeed took her father’s phone and used it to process an exit permit, then climbed out of her bedroom window to go to the airport. She flew to Ukraine then the UK, where she claimed asylum….

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