Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
If a woman is very poor and she is compelled to provide for herself and her dependents, and she finds no way to do this except by committing fornication to obtain her provisions, is this permitted for her?
Mercy and giving are among the most fundamental pillars of Islam. Other Muslims who live in the area where such a woman lives are religiously obligated to support her and keep her from resorting to such actions. The fact that people in such difficult situations exist among Muslim populations is something that we should be ashamed of. That having been said, Ibn Hajar explains in his commentary on the Minhaj that because of the serious social repercussions of fornication, it would not be permissible for a woman to engage in it even if it is the only way for her to obtain food.