July 02, 2005 Updated 02:39am (Mla time)
NEW DELHI--A ruling by a powerful Islamic body that a woman raped by her father-in-law must separate from her husband has sparked a storm in India, with angry rights groups and Muslim women slamming the fatwa although the victim says she is resigned to her fate.
"The Islamic clerics have failed to differentiate between sex by consent and rape by force," president of the All India Muslim Women's Personal Law Board, Shaista Amber, was quoted Friday by the Asian Age newspaper as saying.
"The victim has been further victimized by the 'fatwa' (edict)," Amber said. "We've all decided that Imrana was and is still innocent. She can live with her husband.
"The ruling was against the "spirit and essence of Islam, which gives equal rights to women," Amber's organization said separately.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Monday ordered 28-year-old Imrana Ilahi, who was allegedly raped by her father-in-law Ali Mohammed in northern Uttar Pradesh state about two weeks ago, to separate from her husband, who was tasked with bringing up their five children.
The Muslim law board was set up in 1972 to protect the rights of Muslim women in India.Several women's organizations, led by the All-India Democratic Women's Association, meanwhile staged demonstrations Thursday in Muzafarnagar, where Ilahi lives, demanding punishment for her rapist.