Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment 
A Criminal Epidemic 
A slap on the face of Western Civilization!

Here are some sobering statistics and a cause for concern for those who care.

Edited by Rabia Mills

Humankind can be divided into three principal categories: 
1 Those who are good by nature and incorruptible in the face of temptation and whose instincts will suggest to them whatever is good and proper.
2 Those who are completely opposite to the above and are incorrigible.
3 Those who belong to the intermediate group and who will behave appropriately if they are constrained by supervision and/or sanctions. Without constraint they will lapse into carelessness or do injustice to others.

It is the last category (3) which constitutes the majority of the human race. The other two extreme categories, however, are composed of far fewer people. The first kind, (1) can be likened to human-angels, since they do not require any direction or control. The second kind (2) , however, can be likened to human-devils because they must be controlled and prevented from committing evil. A great deal of attention has been devoted to the third kind, the majority (3), who could be likened to human-men.

Now, all laws, all religions, and all philosophies do try to persuade people, especially those in the intermediate group (3), to behave in an acceptable manner. However, Islam goes one step further – it prescribes ways and means (i.e., modesty for protection) in order to diminish the occasions in which persons with weak characters need to engage in a battle where defeat is a foregone conclusion. 

Some people, especially here in the West, tend to ridicule this argument of modesty for protection. They reason that the best protection is the spread of education, civilized behaviour and self restraint. We say ‘fine, but that is not enough.’ If civilization is enough for protection, then why is it that women in North America are afraid to walk alone on dark streets – or even cross empty parking lots in broad daylight? If education is the solution, then why is it that most respected universities across Canada and the U.S. offer 'walk home services’ especially for female students? If self-restraint is the answer, then why are cases of sexual harassment in the workplace reported regularly in the news media? A sample of those accused of sexual harassment, in the last few years, includes: Navy officers, Managers, University professors, Senators, Supreme Court Justices, and the President of the United States! Here are some alarming statistics that were written in a pamphlet which was issued by the Dean of Women’s office at Queen’s University (Ontario, Canada):

 • In Canada, a woman is sexually assaulted every 6 minutes
 • 1 in 3 women in Canada will be sexually assaulted at some time in their lives
 • 1 in 4 women are at the risk of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime
 • 1 in 8 women will be sexually assaulted while attending college or university
 • A study found that 60% of Canadian university-aged males said they would commit sexual assault if they were certain they would not get caught
[and for American (USA) statistics click here]

These statistics relate to sexual assault only, but sexual harassment is just as commonplace in our so-called ‘civilized’ and ‘culturally liberalised’ society.  Studies show that between 40 and 70 per cent of women suffer from sexual insult and aggression at work, usually from supervisors. Something is fundamentally wrong with our society and a radical change in society's lifestyle and culture is necessary. A culture of modesty is sorely needed (i.e., modesty in dress, speech, manners, and mental attitudes for both men and women), otherwise these grim statistics will continue unabated.

In Islam, morality is a very comprehensive duty and consequently special importance is attached to it. For example, promiscuity is ordered to be suppressed in every way. The Qur'an requires that society be purged from such evils as  reckless talk or gossip, especially in matters where injury is easy to inflict and difficult to remedy. For example, the Qur'an (24:4-5) decrees that if a man accuses a woman of immorality, and if he does not provide proof of his accusation, then not only is he exposed to the penalty prescribed for false accusation (slander), but he will also be declared in perpetuity as unworthy of giving evidence before a tribunal (this in addition to the Divine punishment in the Hereafter, which could possibly be effaced if he were to repent.)

If spirituality is our duty with regards to our Creator, then morality has the same place in our dealings with our fellow beings. In its ardent desire to control the very sources of evil (and not just a few of its manifestations), Islam has imposed, recommended, and  otherwise encouraged certain practices which will astonish us sometimes if we do not take into consideration their profound motives. For example, all religions say that fornication and adultery are crimes, but Islam goes further and prescribes the ways and means to diminish these temptations. It is easy but futile to hope and wish that everyone will develop their individual morality in order to resist temptation. It is so much wiser to ‘nip things in the bud’, as it were, to prevent atrocities to begin with.

For a much more detailed explanation which contrasts women in the Muslim system with women in the Judeo-Christian Tradition click here
For a Psychological explanation of conscience (Haya) as well as more detailed considerations on this subject click here(The Arabic term 'Haya' means conscience. That is, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, a sense of decency, a sense of modesty or a sense of shame.)

This article is an edited compilation from Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah's  book "Introduction to Islam" as well as Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem Mohamed's "Women in Islam vs Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition -- The Myth and The Reality."