Abu Azmi defends remarks, says sex outside marriage should be punished

Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi yesterday defended his remark that a woman and a man entering into a sexual relationship outside marriage should be punished, before the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW).

Abu Azmi had said that rape was punishable by death in Islam
Abu Azmi had said that rape was punishable by death in Islam

“Our religion does not allow women to have sexual relations with anyone except her husband. If a man and a woman decide to have sexual relations with consent, then both of them should be punished,” he stated in his reply submitted to the MSCW.

The commission had asked him to explain his earlier statement that women who have sex outside their marriage must be punished, too. The controversy arose after a set of bizarre statements Azmi made to mid-day, saying rape was punishable by death in Islam, and that a woman, married or unmarried, who has sex with or without consent, must be sent to the gallows (see box).

Invoking Islam, the MLA, who appeared before the Commission Friday, said that a woman in an illicit relationship should be punished along with the man involved. Azmi said that at times, the law is misused by women. “If a woman voluntarily enters into a relationship with a man, and later complains against him, it can have disastrous consequences.”

Reacting to Azmi’s reply, MSCW Chairperson Sushiben Shah said it was not right on part of the SP leader to cite religion and deprive women of their rights. “The Constitution of India, the Supreme Court and the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act have given acceptance to live-in relationships and provided protection to women, including Muslim women,” Shah said.

“The law of the land should be applicable to all women irrespective of their religion, caste or creed,” Shah added. She said that since Azmi has raised a religious matter, she would examine and act accordingly. “We would like to see that regressive remarks are not made by people sitting on high positions in society.”

'Women having sex should be hanged'
On April 11, this paper published a front-page report about Abu Azmi’s shocking statements, in which he called for death penalty for any woman who has physical relations with a man, regardless of her consent.

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Azmi, through his interpretation of Islam, suggested that rape was punishable by death, but that in India, only men were hanged, not women, implying that even the rape survivor was guilty. He said “if any woman, married or unmarried, goes with a man, with or without her consent, she should be hanged.”

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