Rape 'impossible' in marriage, says Muslim cleric

A senior Muslim cleric who runs the country's largest network of sharia courts has sparked controversy by claiming that there is no such thing as rape within marriage.

Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, said that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because "sex is part of marriage". And he claimed that many married women who alleged rape were lying.

His comments have angered senior police officers, who say that such statements undermine the work they do to encourage women to report rape, a notoriously under-reported crime.

Sheikh Sayeed made the comments in an interview with the blog The Samosa, before reiterating them later when contacted by The Independent.

He told the website: "Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage. Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity... Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable."

Later he told this newspaper: "In Islamic sharia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape. It is reprehensible, but we do not call it rape."

British law was changed in 1991, making rape within marriage illegal.

Dave Whatton, Chief Constable of Cheshire and spokesman on rape for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "We know that the majority of rapes do not take place through strangers attacking women late at night but between acquaintances and within marriages and partnerships.

"It is a fundamental principle that sharia law should not replace the laws of the UK. Putting out views that rape can be dealt with in another way fundamentally undermines everything we are trying to do."

The cleric's comments come just days after Germaine Greer suggested that rape victims should name and shame their attackers online instead of reporting it to the police.

Mr Whatton added: "The comments of Sheikh Sayeed and Germaine Greer suggest there are other ways of dealing with rape. If that happens, victims of rape do not get the medical and counselling support they need to overcome this traumatic experience – and we are not in a position to effectively prosecute offenders."

In the interview on the website, Sheikh Sayeed suggests that women who claim to have been raped by their husbands should not immediately go to the police, saying: "Not in the beginning, unless we establish that it really happened. Because in most of the cases, wives... have been advised by their solicitors that one of the four reasons for which a wife can get a divorce is rape, so they are encouraged to say things like this."

Sheikh Sayeed said the Islamic Sharia Council had only dealt with two or three cases of rape since the arbitration tribunal was founded in 1982. Asked about how men who are found to have forced themselves upon their wives were punished, he explained: "He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough."

Inayat Bunglawala, chairman of Muslims4UK, said: "Sheikh Sayeed's comments are woefully misguided and entirely inappropriate. Rape – whether within marriage or outside it – is an abominable act and is clearly against the law."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks