You’ve Probably Heard about this by Now…

The ongoing saga of the 18-year-old Saudi girl who was raped by seven men, and ended up sentenced to 90, then 200, lashes for the crime of being in the presence of a man not related to her. (I’m not referring to the rapists, that would be crazy).

For those of you who are not aware of the story, an 18-year-old girl from Qatif went to meet a man she had had a prior relationship with to reclaim photos that he threatened to blackmail her with. While they were standing outside a shopping mall, they were abducted at knifepoint. She was gang raped 14 times by seven men. The man accompanying her was also raped. In an extraordinary ruling, she was sentenced by the courts to 90 lashes for having been with a man who was not her male relative. When she appealed this verdict, expecting leniency under the extenuating circumstances, the court increased her sentence to 200 lashes and six months imprisonment. This increased sentence was delivered under the spurious pretext that the judiciary would not be “aggravated and influenced” through the media. Her lawyer has been suspended from the case, has had his license confiscated and is now being threatened with disciplinary action.

Indeed, as has been shown by the insanity of the proceedings she would have been well advised to privately deal with the physical and psychological scars that this heinous act had incurred. Instead of being applauded for breaking social taboos and enduring the consequences of revisiting the trauma that she must have acutely suffered in bringing her case forward, she now stands in the same dock as her rapists accused of being complicit in perpetrating the crime. According to the courts, she should not have been with a man who was not her male guardian in the first place. The judges looked into their crystal ball and saw that she had “the intention of doing something bad” and this therefore constituted a very good reason for her to be gang raped. Always the woman’s fault, but of course!

How does any of this make sense when practically all women in the Kingdom rely on the services of a man who is not their guardian? We live day and night in the closest of proximity with our drivers who by no means can be classified as eunuchs, having been deprived of the company of their wives for up to two years. And yet such a close relationship is deemed OK by the very same men in power who can punish a rape victim for being out in public with an equally “strange” man only because he doesn’t happen to be employed by her. Even though the judgment in this case is shocking, it is hardly surprising when you analyze the twisted reasoning it is based upon.


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Filed under arab, Islamic relations, Saudi Arabia

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