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Sexual Abuse in the Muslim Community

Why is sexual abuse taboo? 


Par Fatimata Keita 

Sexual abuse has always been taboo, in every society and community. 

Along the taboo of those acts, the fault is often projected towards the victim rather than the abuser. Thankfully, today the discussion is slowly but (hopefully) taking a different turn! And with the activism, strength and work of many women and men, the shame (and blame) is going towards the other side. In a community where sex before marriage is prohibited, abuse is much less likely to be discussed. Especially because such horrible acts generally occur during the victim's youth.

After reading an article on sexual abuse and the Muslim community, I wanted to highlight culture vs. religion. I feel like this actually should be thought of a lot more. Because many things we see as related to religion (by Muslims or non-Muslims) are actually based on culture, and have no place in religion. Also, there are billions of Muslim people that come from very diverse parts of the world, each with their own culture and customs. Because of this, they will obviously have a different approach to subjects, including sexual violence. 

The article previously mentioned presents the story of people from south Asian and Middle Eastern culture. 

As previously said, strictly speaking there is no such thing as "taboo" in Islam. Every topic used to be discussed with the Messenger of Allah peace and blessing be upon him. 

However, I feel like the notion of modesty has been mistaken or twisted, in order to create or maintain those taboos that are present in some cultures. 

Modesty is one predominant characteristic that is called upon Muslims. Men and women are invited to be modest in the way they talk, walk and act; so they could only behave the best way toward their Lord, themselves and others. Modesty is actually mentioned as one branch of the faith in Islam. 

So yes, at the crossroads of religion and culture there were a few misconceptions that created taboo! But also, is sexual abuse one? Isn't sexual abuse still a taboo for the rest of the world? Even after movements like #metoo, sexual abuse is still a very sensitive subject, not just because of the horror of the act. Sadly, what most victims fear (not being heard, being denied, or worse blamed) still happens. In the article, one woman said she didn’t speak sooner because the abuser was part of the family; but just a few days ago I watched an interview of a non-Muslim woman who kept silent about the abuse of her husband. And a few months ago in France, more precisely Corse, many young women denounced the sexual violence they were victims of and also the fact that in their hometown those actions weren’t taken seriously or even acknowledged, just because of how close the victims and abuser were!

To this day, even in a society where sex is no longer prohibited or even taboo, victims of sexual abuse are reduce to silence most of the times because of the fear not of not being believed, that there is no follow-up or, worse, reprisals! 

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