Saudi Arabian woman must be accompanied by a male guardian — typically
relative — at all times in public. The rape victim violated this law by
meeting a friend to retrieve a picture.
19-year-old gang rape victim was sentenced to 200 lashes and to six
months in jail for the crime of indecency and speaking to the press.
By, The Clarion Project | h/t to Jennifer L. Kopp
Arabia defended a controversial verdict sentencing a 19-year-old gang
rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in jail. The Shi’ite Muslim
woman had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicted of
violating Saudi Arabia’s rigid Islamic Sharia law on segregation of the
decision handed down by the Saudi General Court more than doubled her
sentence last week. The court also roughly doubled the prison sentences
for the seven men convicted of raping her, Saudi media said.
The upholding of a decision to punish the victim triggered international outcry.
said it would complain to Saudi authorities about the sentence,
described as “barbaric”’ by Jose Verger, the Canadian minister
responsible for the status of women.
New York based Human Rights Watch said the verdict “not only sends
victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press
charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the
not directly criticizing the Saudi Arabia’s judiciary, U.S. State
Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “I think when you look at the
crime and the fact that now the victim is punished, I think that causes a
fair degree of surprise and astonishment. It is within the power of the
Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it.”
the Saudi judiciary stood by its decision. “The Ministry of Justice
welcomes constructive criticism, away from emotions,” it said in a
statement also said that the “charges were proven” against the woman
for having been in a car with a strange male, and repeated criticism of
her lawyer for talking “defiantly” about the judicial system, saying “it
has shown ignorance.”
woman’s lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, reached out to the media. The
court has since banned him from further defending the woman,
confiscating his license and summoning him to a disciplinary hearing
later this month.
justice ministry implied the victim’s sentence was increased because
she had spoken out to the press. “For whoever has an objection on
verdicts issued, the system allows to appeal without resorting to the
media,” said the statement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency.
rape took place in 2006. The victim said it occurred as she tried to
retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know.
in a car with the student, two men got into the vehicle and drove them
to a secluded area. She said she was raped there by seven men, three of
whom also attacked her friend.
case was referred back to the General Court by an appeals court last
summer, after the woman’s lawyer contested the initial verdict, saying
it was too lenient for the rapists and unjust for the victim.
Footnote: It was just brought to my attention that the male friend of
the female in this occurrence was also raped and he received the same
punishment as she did.