Day By Day

Friday, November 16, 2007

Punishing the Victim


AFP reports:
A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

Saudi Arabia enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism and forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and forces them to cover head-to-toe in public.

Last year, the court sentenced six Saudi men to between one and five years in jail for the rape as well as ordering lashes for the victim, a member of the minority Shiite community.

Read it here.

Let's see now..., she is Shia, the rapists are Sunni. Any guesses as to what the judges are? That's right, Sunni.

There seems to be a bit more to the story than sectarianism, though. The girl appealed the original verdict to the "Higher Judicial Council" which ordered reconsideration. The even harsher second verdict was obviously a thumb in the eye of the Saudi authorities who were seeking to regulate Sharia courts.