By Mira Khatib
The ugliest of crimes; he raped her, ripping away not just her clothes but everything beautiful from her life, her goals, ambitions, and future happiness. In less than ten minutes, this demented person destroyed a young girl’s life; an ugly act that he will forget and one that forever will scar her soul and mind. Not only she will relive the pain, the shame, the confusion but she also needs to describe the horrible act in detail to investigators.
Her torture continues as now instead of finding comfort from her parents, they try to convince her to accept marriage from this criminal. As many Arab societies point a finger at the victim as if it was her fault to get raped. Words of torment hail down on her asking who will marry “damaged goods”, and “it is better to be with such a man, than no man.” With a bleak future painted by her own family, she is forced to accept believing she has no other choice; and only hoping that it is only short term and that one day she will gain her freedom.
Unlike other blissful brides she is wed in tears and fear in her heart, with her white dress stained in blood from that cruel crime. Now the door shut, and they are alone, with all audacity he demands her to surrender to him as it’s her “duty” as his wife. The rape now continues on a daily basis to her body and soul.
How did this crime end up rewarding the criminal instead of prosecuting him? It is written in some of the Arab countries penal codes of law stating that if a rapist marries his victim then he no longer needs to serve his sentence; maybe believing this to be a form of protection for the girl’s virtue and reputation. Yet this is far from the truth and reality.
Basically this law allows the perpetrator to get away with his crime setting him free to roam the streets and not only so; but end up with a wife that he could continue to abuse as he pleases without even putting effort or costing him a dime.
This kind of law encourages the criminal to marry the victim so he can walk away from his sentence and not get punished. The one who ends up paying the price for the rest of her life is the victim, that poor girl who cannot go against society’s accusing fingers and her family’s shaming words, losing all hope for justice.
Parents of rape victims should not surrender their daughters in such a way or even “sell her” by accepting financial compensation to accept marriage, all in the name to save the family’s honor. Such families have to realize that the girl did not do any wrong doing and it is not her fault, and she should not be shamed into feeling guilty.
Rape victims should not give up their legal rights, and demand that the criminal be persecuted, collecting the needed evidence immediately and taking photos to document the crime. She should be provided with proper care and counseling and given the time to heal and be able to trust again.
We plea that such laws are removed, as it is demeaning to the victim who is going through a devastating emotional and mental state and most likely won’t be able to handle the injustice of marrying her slayer. Instead a new law should be added to persecute the victim’s family if they force their daughter into an unjust and disgraceful marriage.
Protect our girls, protect our societies and lock up those immoral criminals, by enforcing the punishment they deserve, seal their fate, just like they sealed the fate of their victims.
Inspired from an Arabic article “He Rapped Her, Then Married Her” (اغتصبها فتزوجها)