17 November 2007

Rape victim faces 200 lashes in Saudi Arabia

A Shi'ite Saudi woman who was raped 14 times by a group of seven Sunni Saudi men has been herself sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes. The rapists, meanwhile, were given prison sentences ranging from two to ten years.

The woman's crime, according to the appeals court that doubled the number of lashes she was originally sentenced to receive, was that she had ridden in a car with an unrelated man. The reason the court doubled her sentence and added a jail term is that, according to them, she had tried to manipulate the judicial system through the media. The appeals court also doubled the rapists' jail sentences. Originally, the perpetrators were supposed to serve between a year and five years in prison.

The appeals court has also withdrawn the licence of the victim's lawyer, which means he that he is now barred from practising his profession (BBC).

The only word that occurs to me is "disgusting". On second thought, there are many choice words you could describe the actions of the Saudi court with, including "deranged", "apalling" and "highly, exceptionally un-Islamic".

According to the Qur'an, someone who has been found guilty of adultery should be flogged a hundred times. Now, the person who is to be flogged has to be found guilty of actually having engaged in extra-marital sex, not of merely being in the same enclosed space as an unrelated member of the opposite sex. So to sentence the victim of rape to twice the punishment prescribed by God for a confirmed adulterer or adulteress simply defies belief. On the other hand, this is Saudi Arabia we're talking about.

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