An Indian woman, only seventeen years-old, has ended her life by ingesting poison. She decided to end her life in the wake of being pressured to marry one of the men who recently raped her.
Inspector General Paramjit Singh Gill said that the teenager had been “running from pillar to post to get her case registered” but officers failed to open a formal inquiry.
“One of the officers tried to convince her to withdraw the case,” Gill, the police chief for the area, told AFP.
Before her death, there had been no arrests over her case although three people were detained on Thursday. Two of them were her alleged male attackers and the third was a suspected woman accomplice.
The victim’s sister told Indian television that the teenager had been urged to either accept a cash settlement or marry one of her attackers.
“The police started pressuring her to either reach a financial settlement with her attackers or marry one of them,” her sister told the NDTV network.
Sadly, women killing themselves for this reason is not an entirely uncommon occurrence (which should tell you that women being forced or encouraged to marry their rapists in these cultures is even more common). When I read a story like this, every single strand of my humanity strains to not believe it. In some Muslim societies there are even laws like article 308 in Jordan’s penal code, which allows rapists to avoid jail time by agreeing to a forced marriage with their victim. This is done to absolve the woman of the crime of adultery (called “zina” under Sharia law, which essentially means unlawful sexual contact). In countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, there are women who are in prison for the crime of being raped (and being unwilling to take the “out” of serving her rapist in marriage for the rest of her life).
How could any person think the victim of a rape marrying the perpetrator is anything other than stupid, and a positively inhuman demand to make of someone (especially in the sense of adopting the subservient wife role dictated by many religions)? Of all the ways to respond to a rape, how does that one even enter the human mind? It strains the mind to comprehend how even a single person could come up with such a detestable idea. How on earth to entire cultures get contaminated in this way?
And then you read the holy books of religions like Christianity and Islam and you realize precisely where the idea came from. And then I wonder how such a miserable idea managed to survive into the modern world, and the answer is simple: religious faith. And I am reminded of why I so despise religion.
“Oh, but that was only for people back in the day” will come the excuse from more moderate believers. I just want to stare at those people, because what they’re saying is not “pushing someone to marry their rapist is moronic, inhuman, and evil.” They are instead saying that there are times when such rules are evil and other when it is was morally good! This leaves me with less optimism for human nature’s ability to override the influence of religion, not more.
I dream of the day when conflicts between religious rules and empathy are resolved by always obeying our compassion. We’re not there yet.
The response from the “we should coexist with religion” atheists will be that these societies do not represent Islam. Yes, yes they do. Reason and human compassion are beautiful, but religious faith manages to taint both. Your Muslim friends just obey their humanity and call it Islam. The beauty you are seeing belongs to their nature, not to the religion that just took another innocent life.