What causes today’s culture of sexual assault & how Islam can solve it

Aisha Hasan

Since the 5th of October, almost 24 women have come forward accusing acclaimed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and rape. With stars like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow among them, the headlines have been full of the details of what was known as Tinseltown’s “open secret”. The incidents have shed light not only on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the film industry, but also opened up a broader discussion on society’s treatment of the perpetrators and victims of abuse.

This week’s newspapers are full of articles on everything from why some women were specifically targeted, why colleagues had not spoken out for their female co-workers, and the condemnations from male stars (many of whom ironically referenced the fact that they had daughters as evidence that they were outraged).

But one question that is less spoken about is what has caused the culture of sexual harass.jpgassault in society today. Such incidents are not unique to the film industry – statistics show that some 1,600 adult women are raped every week in the UK. Only 15 per cent of those raped report the incident.

Around the world such incidents have become part and parcel of women’s daily life, but isn’t it in Western society in which we are told women have achieved equality compared to the developing world? Surely in the West, with the emphasis on tolerance and freedom, women could count on to be protected from such behaviour?

Clearly not.

So why is it that a culture of abuse towards women persists, despite claims of values and laws to the contrary?

For many, this seems an obvious question. Sexual assault happens because of individuals only: egotistical, narcissistic men, who use women to fulfil their desires.

But all individuals are a product of their environment; no one is born a sexual abuser. So what has created a mind-set that either does not consider such actions as wrong, or simply does not care?

To answer that question we must look at the position of women in the modern age. It is no secret that standards of appropriate behaviour between men and women have become more liberal over the past decades. Just over 100 years ago in Victorian Britain, a woman showing her arms would have been considered vastly unsuitable. But throughout the 20th century, particularly during the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s, women claimed their rights and their bodies for themselves.

But as much as this has seemed to empower women from the educational, political and social limitations imposed on them, it has not liberated them from exploitation. Liberal culture’s sexualisation of society and the promotion of sexual freedom has normalised pornography, adultery, and promiscuity, harming the healthy cooperation of the genders. Its contemptible and systematic degrading of women through their objectification and commodification in the entertainment industry, licensed by freedom of ownership, has generated a view amongst many men in capitalist liberal states that women are simply objects to play to their desire. Women have been dehumanised, making them easier targets.

Moreover, values that have been heralded as the key modernity; namely the upholding of individual liberty at expense of all else, has demoted the role that morals and ethics plays in ones life. Good and bad is considered unique to each person’s perspective, aside from a few universal ills such as murder (which can also be ignored if it suits your political position).

As such, women are abused because individuals are “free” to seek hedonistic pleasures at the expense of all else; such is the measurement of right and wrong, where man-made laws are the order of the day. Women are perceived as “wanting it” or even if they do not, “its only sex” – and when individual perception rules, lines are blurred, and people are hurt.

To those who think that such an assessment is a gross exaggeration, it’s worth mentioning two other events that have also occurred recently.

The first was the death of Hugh Hefner; a man who made his living by selling soft pornography in Playboy magazine; a man who was famous for being surrounded by near-naked women at his parties, even at the age of 80. And yet, his eulogies last month were full of praise. He was heralded as an artist, a humorous and kind revolutionary; despite the numerous women who have spoken of the psychological and emotional abuse they experienced in the Playboy mansion.

When such a man is placed on a pedestal, what message does that send to society about what is considered acceptable treatment of women?


The second incident occurred last week, when a clip of Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa at Comicon in 2011 resurfaced, in which he states that one of the benefits of his job was that he got to “rape beautiful women”. The reaction of the audience: mostly laughs. While some gasps of shock can be heard, and other members of the panel look embarrassed, the fact that it took 6 years for this clip to go viral, shows that it had not even garnered sufficient outrage at the time. But then why are we surprised to hear such statements from a show that is littered with sexual content and has justified some 55 incidents of violent rape on screen?

Beyond the normalisation issue, we also have the question of punishment for rape, or rather the lack of punishment. Some 95 per cent of rapists in the UK never see prison. Earlier this year a UK court allowed an admitted child rapist to walk free after the judge agreed that the 12 year old victim looked 16, whilst in the US a man who raped an unconscious woman served simply three months in jail. Do such sentences do anything to deter potential abusers, who already have a flawed understanding of how to treat women?

It beggars belief that despite drowning in this social and legislative chaos, Western states have the audacity to continue to export capitalism and liberalism globally as champions of women’s rights. The developing world and the Islamic world undoubtedly have challenges of their own when it comes to abuse of women, but is the solution proposed by secular liberals the answer? Evidently not.

Whilst Islam’s understanding of gender relations, its prescribed method of prevention and how it would deal with sexual assault necessitates an article in and of itself, suffice to say that the Islamic texts not only obliges men to view and treat women with respect always, but also rejects sexual freedoms and prohibits the sexualisation, exploitation or devaluing of women in any way or for any purpose as well as the sexualisation of society. It focuses on prevention, not just the cure.

In addition, taqwa (God-consciousness) nurtures a mind-set of accountability to Allah (swt) that understands that every action has reward or punishment in the Hereafter, ensuring that the Muslim adheres to Islam’s limits and rules, maintaining upright, moral behaviour regardless. This aids the creation of a safe society.

Islam’s values, laws and system, which liberals are trigger-happy in labelling as backward or oppressive towards women, in reality regulate the relationship between men and women so that the fulfilment of sexual desires are directed towards marriage alone and not promoted as a dangerous free-for-all within society.

Sexual abuse is a real threat that millions of women and men fear in their everyday lives. Surely the hallmark of any progressive society would be, at the very least, that it is able to protect its citizens and see that when they are abused, justice is served. If current values are unable to provide that security, perhaps its time to look for an alternative.

Aisha Hasan is the founder of the Qarawiyyin Project. A researcher in international development and the political economy of the Muslim world, she is also a student of Islamic Studies and a Quran teacher. She has been active in her Muslim community for several years, appearing on television, radio shows, and delivering talks at universities around the UK.

6 thoughts on “What causes today’s culture of sexual assault & how Islam can solve it

  1. Alhamdulillah, May Allah reward you for this. A very insightful article. But, I think if I share your article most of the Non-muslim will not be reluctant to open and read the article because the heading of the article mention how Islam can save it. It is all because of the perception that is there in the media about Islam.
    So, my request is, if it’s possible to reframe the heading so it can be shared with non-muslim sister also and reading rate In Sha Allah may increase.


  2. Aisha makes some very valid and good points however Muslim women wearing modest clothes,hijab,nikab or none are also victims of sexual harassment, stalked and sexually abused and raped not only in the West but also in Muslim countries. Many feel powerless and do not report and do not feel protected whether that be in the U.K. or other countries including the Muslim countries.


  3. Well written Aisha. The important thing to consider is that even though rape is prevalent in any society, there are even more minor forms of sexual harassment women experience in their everyday lives. The disturbing fact is that hijab or no hijab, a sick man who is out to satisfy his lust by hook or crook will find a way and the society still doesn’t give it enough recognition. Much more needs to be done.​


  4. I’m all for lampooning western society(outside of dumb shit like “wahh I don’t like that people don’t want to murder gays as much here”) but pretending like this is somehow better in the Muslim world takes a special sort of arrogance & disrespect for the victims of widespread sexual assault all over the world.


    1. Dollywitch, you’re one to talk and keep being up trans-pervert agenda in your stupid posts. You’re part of the part.


  5. I find it odd that where an alleged abuser is a celebrity, Harris, Seville, Clifford, Hall, Davison etc etc the establishment insist that the victim is believed and the case investigated vigorously bringing great distress to the ALLEGED perpetrator. Now the playboy prince is accused and the establishment are falling over themselves to insist its not true and the girl should not be believed. IT STINKS. This family have a track record as far as taming around is concerned before they came to the throne. Look no further than Edward 7th, Edward 8th and the present Prince of Wales. Andrew should have chosen his friends rather more carefully and kept well clear of convicted US sex offenders. The denial by the the palace minions gives credence to the story.The toe licking business, seems to be a ‘family’ thing -was it not a few years ago when Andrew’s wife had hers done by some man! Nothing would surprise me, Diana always called them the firm. Look at his ancestor Henry the eight !! The allegation that he paid for sex with an underage girl is obviously not true. Technically, it was us that paid for it….I wish this would all stop, Prince Andrew is a Royal and it is well known they do not go in for this sort of thing. Clinton, had sex with a girl and then denied it all, then the truth came out. Of course they are going to cover it up. Jack the ripper???… Diana??? The higher up the social ladder the more chance of cover ups. He has always had a dark seedy side to his life Koo Stark, Fergie,( who if i remember rightly was licking sucking someone’s toes ?) now this Randy Andy was his nick name……He’s a Closet Pedo !! Let the law take its course. As he is not the crown he can be prosecuted. Those of a certain age can recall Princess Anne being charged with speeding, fined and licence endorsed..

    In all such cases, denials are simply meaningless! No one expects the accused to say, “Sorry, I had forgotten about the incident, but now I have been reminded, I must confess, it was rather foolish of me, but I am guilty!” Since that will never happen, all denials must be dismissed, without the slightest hesitation! What is required, is a thorough investigation into the lady’s allegations, and the findings made public! The question that demands an answer is this, what is the motive for the this woman to accuse, of all people, the Prince whom she has never met? I have no doubt the Duke Of York is as innocent as many of the celebrities that have been accused of similar offences recently. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of the royal family. If any member of the Royal family had to pay for sex I would be completely astonished. The world is full of people who would jump into bed with any of them given the chance. Why ? because It’s deemed as newsworthy.. How many examples of the so called`royal` family living the high life at our expense and then having their track covered when things go pear shaped do you want?

    When Profumo was challenged by the PM, shown a photo of Miss Keeler or Miss Rice-Davis , I can`t remember which, and asked `Did you have sex with this woman ?`. His reply was `Not with THAT woman` . I believe he had been shown a picture of the one he had not had sex with, so he nearly got away with it. However nowadays he would probably have resigned his seat and been gifted a seat in the Lords! Buckingham Palace have always favoured the paedophile ( Jimmy Seville Rolf Harris ) while they refused entry to the queens garden party to Nick Griffin and his family because he stood by all our little children when exposing the Muslin paedophile gangs. if the people want the truth about all these paedophiles walking the British streets ,,,,, then Nick Griffin is a must to chair any investigation

    Why oh why do theses celebs, princes, pop stars all deny their dirty deeds?. If they just came out and said “Yep I shagged him/her” there would be no news, nothing to bite on. The girl hated doing it with Andrew so much she did it 3 times?. So he banged a 17 year old, so what?, and she was a slave? Oh yeah right. I’m a Republican and despise royalty but this is just a woman regretting the fact that, at 17 she was as horny as hell and is now trying to assert some sort of respectability by saying she was forced. As I understand it the Uk police are allowed under British law to investigate and prosecute all sex crimes committed here in the uk or abroad ??? so why is Scotland yard investigating these allegations ??? Sounds like a cover up here, one rule for royalty and one for everyone else , hey lets see a proper transparent investigation here !!!!! people of the Uk should DEMAND this.

    we were all saying Monika hadn’t performed a sexual act on the former USA president then bang after so long the truth came out. Well done girl if what you are saying is true let it come out even hard it can be, you have my support mainly for the way some minorities are treated in uk the police and government always take the side of the healthy one ignoring denying others of their rights. let it all out please I know I may pay to have said that but it is how it is happening here I am afraid. A certain figure denied it once and stayed silent, no charges have yet been brought against him, the cases in Rotherham and all the other cases at the BBC and the government cover up are all in the public domain now so it will get harder to hide, if this girl is murdered or dies in a convenient car crash even more questions will be raised.

    Oh by the way, should have said, Mountbatten was a homosexual and `Hutch` serviced his wife for many many years. He was so grateful he paid for the singers headstone and grave when he passed away, bankrupt.If Mountbatten had been a serving sailor, and had been `caught in the act` or suspected, he would have been kicked out of the Navy. However the ROYAL family are beyond reproach. Do grow up! It all smells like Billingsgate fish market, doesn’t it…..and of course, the girl was forced to accept the £10,000 following the performance on the holiday paradise island, wasn’t she? Nevertheless, whoopee do, this is the stuff that sells tabloids and keeps the readership entertained.

    I cannot understand Prince Andrew ever associating with this Jewish Paedophile Billionaire as these type of people are the worst PERVERTS on this Earth. Take that Jewish Scum Bag B—st–d Khan who raped that Hotel bedroom Cleaner in a New York Hotel. They were only going to nominate him to become the Head of the IMF Bank which a Jewish Slush Fund Bank where the Jews deposit all their Laundered ill gotten gained funds from Heists and Fraud monies derived from swindling the UK INLAND REVENUE or Tax System to evade paying their taxes on the Billions of earnings they have diverted through Tax Havens plus all the GOLD that Gordon Brown in collusion with Mervyn King at the Bank of England a Jew went and sold it for peanuts ie $460 Dollars an ounce on 55 Tons of GOLD when he could have s…old it for £1,960 dollars an ounce if he had waited. I’m sure the Crooks in the IMF will remunerate him well for ripping us all off here in the UK. I am afraid to say that Hitler was not the criminal as depicted. But rather another expansion of the truth by our Jewish Run Media. I hope you all saw the documentary of Robert Maxwell the bully who was just another demented pervert Jewish Crook who ripped of the Mirror News Papers Pension Fund for at least £800 million and left his workers having to go cap in hand to our Government for them to bail out his Bankrupted Pension Fund. Of course we the British Public picked up the tab for that. BWB.

    The so called royal family seem to get away with excuses a lot of said plots for Diane as she was a naughty girl i still say the ginger isn’t Charles and looks sod like him.. he was in a nude episode good on him for having fun,the so called queen has inbred in the family that she doesn’t bother to go and see just left in a home to die.. she never has done anything for them and people still have some respect for the o bag.. she doesn’t even run this country as a real queen would of. this uk is a mess because maybe she should of got off her arse and did something. ie stop what’s moving in with out being vetted. I will never have respect for that family and hope in years to come they die off as not being very popular. rich for the rich and no real help for us workers..Andrew probably did as the royal set up a crash for die. never rung rite ..


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