Those who agree with this ayatollah that this isn't a rape law, including some "wives must always say yes" Christians, are practicing one of the most common forms of rape denial. For them it's not rape if the rapist doesn't follow the scary monster rapist mold.
But since the Shia personal status law was signed last month, it has drawn condemnation in Afghanistan and internationally. A clause stating that a wife must submit to her husband's advances, unless ill, has been interpreted as sanctioning rape.
A group of 300 Afghan women were stoned and subjected to verbal abuse from conservative opponents when they protested against the law outside Ayatollah Mohseni's Kabul mosque on Wednesday. Ayatollah Mohseni, who leads Afghanistan's Shias, said the law had been misinterpreted by politically-motivated critics. [...]
However he added that women do have a duty to meet their husband's needs.
"If a woman says no, the man has the right not to feed her," he said.
The scary monster rapist jumps his intended victim without speaking, brutally rapes that victim without pause and leaves that rape victim visibly and undeniably physically injured or murdered. Under this model any cooperation from the victim nullifies rape from being real rape because "consent is consent."
Real victims of scary monster rapists will choose death over compliance and will choose the worst possible death over trying to please that rapist. Real victims certainly won't pretend to enjoy being raped even if it is clear that the price of truth will be death. Taking sexual actions to reduce harm or to survive becomes legal consent under this model.
Remember, there is a meme that some women like being raped. Those who believe this meme will view compliance or cooperation as eager consent or at least reasonable doubt.
This law then merely helps husbands in their effort to get their wives to change their minds about sex according to this rape denial mindset. And as I've heard repeatedly by those denying non-scary monster rape, working to change someone's mind is legal.
What makes this clearer is that this law is about much more than ordering wives to have sex with their husbands. It establishes the marital hierarchy in multiple ways and all those way reduce the human rights of wives.
Everybody tries to change some other person's mind at some point. Are we going to make all those efforts a crime? This question intentionally ignores that coercion is more than the bland description, "trying to change the other person's mind."
If we accept the broad claim that trying to change someone's mind is legal then torture used to get someone to confess must be legal. The torturer in this situation is only trying to change the non-confessing person's mind about whether to confess. If torture works in this scenario the person tortured has changed his or her mind about confessing.
And this is true, but the person tortured has not freely changed his or her mind. Most people get this.
When a husband denies his wife food he isn't trying to change her mind so that she freely chooses to have sex with him. He is seeking compliance, not genuine consent. If a husband denies his wife food long enough this "denial" becomes murder which is just as real in the end result as if the husband stabbed his wife.
That leaves me wondering if those who practice rape denial in this situation would also practice murder denial. After all, the wife only needed to do her marital duty in order to live therefore she chose to die of starvation. Maybe the rape denialists will labels denial of food deaths suicides.
If a country has a such a law then they have defined a way for rape to be legal. This legalization doesn't make this rape less traumatic, or less rape, than whichever rapes remain illegal (at least on the books).
But then in this model, marital sex isn't about mutuality or a wish to spare wives sexual trauma it is about enforcing the marital hierarchy. In a view of marriage as a hierarchy men cannot rape their wives because they already own their wives bodies. It is only the wife who can commit a sex crime against her husband by in effect denying him his marital rights.
This means that denying your wife food is just another way to get her to do what she was obligated to do. The only crime in this scenario would be committed by the wife when she refuses her husband. If she's raped by her husband she must cooperate unless she's ill (hey, they aren't monsters) and if she does cooperate as ordered it isn't rape.
Nice little loop, at least for rapists and those who are looking out for their best interests.
The "consent is consent" crowd will likely assess this cleric's statement on a mix of their bigotry and their opinion about whether this statement will cross a line in popular opinion. The most popular rape denialists have become rape marketing experts.
They only sell the most popular rapes. The remaining rapes horrify them and they demand that the "real" rapists be punished severely.
With this line of thinking where compliance is consent and only stereotypical force counts then a man who pretended to be a waiter did nothing illegal when he took money from diners and walked out.
People who say, "consent is consent," when it comes to rape would be appalled if their standard of "consent" was always applied in every non-sexual situation -- especially in the situations where they were likely targets.