Imrana rape case
The Imrana rape case is the case of the sexual assault of a 28 year-old Indian Muslim woman by her father-in-law on 6 June 2005 in Charthawal village in the Muzaffarnagar district Uttar Pradesh, India (located 70 km from Delhi). The village elders and subsequently, several levels of Islamic legal opinion regarded Imrana's marriage with her husband null, as the Sharia regards sexual relations with both the father and son as incestuous. This sparked nation-wide controversy as critics argued the case was treated as adultery and not rape.
Rape and Islamic rulings
On 6 June 2005, Imrana, 28 years old at the time, and the mother of five children, was raped by her 69-year-old father-in-law Ali Mohammad.
Soon after she was raped, a local Muslim panchayat (council of elders) asked her to treat her husband Nur Ilahi as her son and declared their marriage null and void. Imrana defied the panchayat's ruling and continued living with her husband.
The leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband also issued a fatwa or opinion, which quotes from Quran 4:23: wa la tankihoo ma nakaha aaba-o-kum, “And marry not women whom your fathers married”, and not distinguishing between rape and adultery, said that as a result of her father-in-law's act, she should now be treated as the mother of her husband and she could no longer live with him even though Imrana had not married her father-in-law. She was still married to her husband when she was raped by her father in law therefore the fatwa provided by the panchayat's disregard the Islamic rulings against rape and the punishment for the rapists. Due to such fatwa Imrana is in a way being prosecuted instead of her rapist father in law as she is being ordered to leave her husband and start a life with her rapist. The fatwa is a clarification of the ruling by the village leaders who disregarded the Islamic teachings for such cases for the sake of shunning Imrana who is thought to have brought shame to the community by having sexual intercourse with her father in law.
This fatwa was based on the Abu Hanifa school of Islamic Jurisprudence (Hanafi fiqh), which rules that on having sex with a man she marries, a woman has the status of mother to all his children. The other three schools, Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali, reject this position The All India Muslim Personal Law Board also endorsed the fatwa, but opinions were divided between the Hanafi and Shafi'i, the two sunni fiqh's mostly represented in India.
Later, the Deoband seminary denied that it has issued such a fatwa. Nur Ilahi continued to stay with Imrana and said that "[they] neither sought advice nor counsel from Deoband. [They] have not raised the issue before clerics."
After Imrana's case was highlighted by the national media, the National Commission for Women directed authorities in Muzaffarnagar to take action. The body's chairperson Girija Vyas asked the Uttar Pradesh government to punish the guilty and sought a report on the incident.
Arrest of father-in-law
Police registered a case under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code against Mohammed Ali and arrested him. Police also filed a case against him on 30 June 2005 with a medical report and recorded Imrana's statement before a magistrate. The court had turned down Mohammed Ali's bail plea on 5 December 2005
In a video recorded by the Muslim Political Council of India, Imrana (veiled) says that once she screamed, Mohammed Ali had run away. On being asked again, she reiterates that the forceful attempt was not successful.
However, the court took a different view based on evidence presented in the trial. On October 2006, Mohammed Ali was condemned to a prison term of ten years for raping Imrana. At one point the defense lawyer sought a leniency based on age of the defendant, but this was denied. The judge also directed Mohammed Ali to pay compensation of Rs 8,000 to Imrana for raping her. On the separate charge of criminal intimidation, Mohammed ali was sentenced to three years in prison and fined in Rs 3,000.
Chronology of events in the Imrana rape case:
- 6 June 2005: Ali Mohammed raped his daughter-in-law Imrana.
- 13 June 2005: A local Muslim panchayat declared Imrana's marriage to Nur Ilahi void as she "had sex" with her father-in-law and asks her to treat her husband as her son, which means she would have to stop living with him.
- 13 June 2005: Mohammed is arrested.
- 16 June 2005: Mohammed is sent to judicial custody.
- 30 June 2005: The police filed cases against Mohammed along with a medical report. Imrana's statement is recorded before a magistrate.
- 5 December 2005: The court turned down Mohammed's bail plea.
- 30 December 2005: The charges are framed against Mohammed.
- 19 October 2006: The court sentenced Mohammed to 10 years in prison for raping Imrana. He also received a three-year term for a separate charge of criminal intimidation.
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