UPDATE: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, a Saudi newspaper reported Monday.The case had sparked international outcry. In a rare criticism of its Mideast ally, the White House had expressed its ”astonishment” over the woman’s sentence. Canada called it barbaric.Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but instead acted in the ”interests of the people.””The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,” al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
The victim in the case, known only as the ”Girl of Qatif” after her hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia, was in a car with a high school friend in 2006 when they were attacked and raped by seven men.
Link and thanks to Mary Sunshine for the heads up!
Profacero alerted me, I think in one of the Delaram Ali comment threads, to the case of the 19-year-old Saudi gang rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison. Her crime? Being out after dark in a car without a male family member, more specifically, being out after dark in a car with the man with whom she was having an “extramarital affair.” Seven men came upon the couple and raped the woman.
When the case was heard the woman was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone with her boyfriend, and the rapists were sentenced to five years in prison. Last week her sentence was increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail and the rapists were resentenced to from two to nine years.
Responding to media outrage and international criticism, the Saudi “Justice” (read: justice for just us men) Ministry said:
“The woman in the case is married and has confessed to establishing a relationship in violation of sharia law…We reiterate that judicial rulings in this virtuous country … are based on God’s book and the traditions of his Prophet and that no ruling is issued without being based on evidence.”
The “Justice Ministry” also is reported to have said “resorting to the media” could have “a negative effect on the other parties in the case.”
The woman’s attorney has appealed but has also been hauled before a disciplinary panel.
Increasingly media, bloggers included — maybe especially — are being warned not to publicize this kind of outrage, told if we do, we may make things more difficult for women being victimized. Not long ago I took down all of my posts relating to the case of a woman in a Middle Eastern country similar to Saudi Arabia whose abusive ex-husband had engineered a situation in which, even though she had legal custody of their children through the country’s highest court (unheard of prior to her case), she was due to be deported without them, meaning she would never see them again in all likelihood. I was told reporting the unfolding of events might hurt her, her children and her case.
What incredible behavior, to threaten the press in this manner, and particularly given the egregiousness of this sentence. The woman and her attorney have been told if she loses her appeal, she might receive an even harsher sentence.
Dr. Violet Socks has a good post up about this and similar atrocities.