Written Versus Not Written Stuff: Sexual Violence in Warfare — Part I & Part II

Written by Saadia Haq

Throughout history, we have observed the recurring pattern of sexual violence in warfare  particularly mass rape, slavery and abuse of girls and women. Having said that, today’s collaboration theme be warned is bringing some uneasy realities that have to be said out loud.

While the world boasts of having put into place, military code for wars, almost every where we see gross human rights abuses and gender based aggression.

Moreover, rape and sexual abuse are not just a by-product of war but are used as a deliberate military strategy, just think about Colombia, Iraq, Sudan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Syria and Afghanistan.

The opportunistic rape and pillage of previous centuries has been replaced in modern conflict by rape used as an orchestrated combat tool, and sadly deployed with high impunity leaving a sense of injustice and long term trauma on women in conflict zones.

And when I say conflict zones, it doesn’t necessarily mean Muslim nations where civil and ethnic conflicts have marred the way of life for the whole population.

Think of Europe – almost twenty four years ago witnessed horrific Bosnian war, where mass scale rapes of Muslim women were used as a means to silence the Bosnic sentiments and uprisings against the Serbs.

Think South Asia – as much as many Pakistanis will decry my recalling of 1971 East Pakistan war, liberated as a separate country; Bangladesh saw military using mass rape and open abuse against women. During 1971 war, scores of  Pakistani soldiers raped tens of thousands of Bengalis, whom Islamic religious leaders stated could be claimed as “war booty.” Till date, Pakistan has yet to officially apologize for the misuse of power and sexual violence during that conflict.

Moreover, the central and very disturbing religious figure Delawar Hossain Sayedee was finally convicted despite his denial of colluding with the Pakistan military on crimes including genocide, mass murder, rape and arson and sentenced to life imprisonment. Other Islamic religious leadership facing similar charges are currently under detention though they deny any wrong doings.

Uprisings in Arab countries including Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt also saw similar patterns where scores of sexual harrasement and rape attempts were faced by the female activists and protestors all while exerting their politicial rights and just by paticipating actively in their country’s future towards democractic governance.

Now flipping the coin to speak about the persisting Islamic militacny in any majority Muslim population countries, where girls and women are targeted by militant groups  – Syria and Nigeria where Islamic State and Boko Haram perpetrated sexual slavery as well as the more disturbing phenomenon of ‘sexual jihad.’

The concept of sexual jihad has little to do with Islam and my co author Papatia Feauxzar shall debunk this myth in her piece, so please stay tuned for part II.

Till date, our world leadership has set a spectacuar example of being absolute failures and bystanders with their helplessness to stop increasingly open and aggressive sexual violence.

All said and done, what I fail to understand that why there are very little convictions for such heinous violations? Out-ragingly, no country has ever mounted an international intervention specifically to protect women’s human rights in such episodes.


Written by Papatia Feauzar

“And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” (Quran 4:24)

This Quranic verse has been misinterpreted for centuries. It doesn’t mean that men wishing to satisfy their sexual urges can get a hall pass to commit fornication. It simply means that when you get your war booty and that you like what you see for behind closed doors, put a ring on it!

Now, let me expound on why I said that this verse has been misinterpreted for ages in the ummah by people with their own agendas. Ibn Abbas was dubbed The Scholar of the Nation masha’Allah (Stars in the Prophet’s Orbit, p.165). It is related that one day after one of Ibn Abbas’s classes, everybody left except a young man who stayed behind. Ibn Abbas asked him what he needed and he replied that he wanted to ask a question but was too shy to ask in front of other people. Ibn Abbas said, “The scholar [`alim] is like a father, so speak to me frankly, as you would to your own father.” The young man said, “I am an unmarried young man, and sometimes I fear hardship upon myself, so I masturbate [astamni] with my hand.” Ibn Abbas turned his face from him and said, “Fie, alas! It would be better to marry even a slave-girl, and yet it is better than adultery [zina].”

Additionally, it is also written  that when Rasool sallalahu aleihi wassalam liked a slave, he emancipated her by giving her clothes to cover herself and then he married her.

So why did sultans, princes, people in power in the Muslim world throughtout the ages, scholars, prison wardens, etc. you name it, have made women war captives their concubines or sex slaves instead? It’s outraging. I won’t accept that just because the concubine is non-Muslim, forcing sex on her is ok.

What about the maxim rule to not wish ill even to your enemy? Allah is al-Hakam. He is the Creator, not us. Let’s leave the final judgement to Him on their beliefs! Why not use the slave you rightfully earned in other tasks if you wish except sex or free her as the sunnah recommends? Sex can be traumatizing if not done within consenting boundaries.

It’s outraging and deeply saddening that to this day, we see that riot and war prisoners who are women in many Muslim countries in conflict are wrongfully raped! Why? Because the state or country where they are taken as captives see them as property. I say it and and I will say it again, it’s fornication plain and simple. Their right hands don’t possess anything! All those men who degrade (d) women’s bodies because of their nafs will pay a high price in this next life for such crimes on such elevated creatures; women. Allah has made women special and these men with their brain in their pants continue to defile women like they wish.

Wallahi, they should fear their fate in this life and the next. This collaboration is a public outcry for these heinous crimes which are still rampant and continue to occur. One Islamic rule in warfare is to not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Why keep war prisoners or riot prisoners and commit treachery against them? Because another rule of conflict is to not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)

May Allah make it easy on all the victims and grant them victory over their oppressors, aameen!

Let’s end with the example of Zukaykha and a statement I have already voiced; an example of how a woman dealt with such an issue even though she was a bit of a trickster. I haven’t heard or read that women in the Mediaval Muslim era WIDELY slept with their slaves just because their husbands were unavailable or because they owned the male slave. Zulaykha tried with Prophet Yusuf aleihi salam but she respected the wish of the slave! The victim was never sexually abused.

The story of Zulaykha, the beautiful and infamous Egyptian socialite, is yet another example where women treat men fairly to some extent and receive poor treament in return from their male counterparts.

If there is anything wrong in this post, it is from me. All the good is from Allah al-Alim.


Cover Pic Source : https://blogs.fco.gov.uk/richardmoore/2015/11/25/stop-violence-against-women/

Inside Post Picture Source : http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/news/20140602/timetoact-civil-society-join-global-push-end-sexual-violence-conflict


“The Written vs. NOT Written Stuff” is a copyrighted collaborative feature series highlighting issues of and within the global Muslim communities. A joint initiative by two Muslimah writers, Papatia Feauxzar and Saadia Haq. We appreciate your support and feedback, do write us here or drop an email at t.human.lens@gmail.com. Copyrights @2015 – 2019. 

Bio Papatia Feauxzar: is an American author of West African descent, an online magazine editor and the unwavering force behind the blog; Between Sisters, SVP! and the creator of  Fofky’s; an Online Book and Coffee/Tea Shop.

Bio Saadia Haq: not your regular Pakistani girl with masters degree in Business Administration and other certifications. An antidote to gender disparities, feminist and human rights journalist that runs this blog! 

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