A 19-year-old woman who was the victim of a violent gang rape in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail after being found guilty of being “indecent” at the time of the attack because she was not accompanied by a male guardian.
According to CNN, The government defended the outrageous court decision, saying that the victim was at fault, and noting that Saudi courts abide by Sharia law which dictates that a woman cannot be in public without a male guardian.
The original incident reportedly took place in 2006. At that time the victim was in a car with a friend when two men commandeered their vehicle and drove them to a secluded area. She was then violently raped by seven men, three of whom also attacked her friend.
Initially, the woman was sentenced to 90 lashes, while the men who raped her were given minor custodial sentences.
The obviously unfair verdict was appealed by the woman’s lawyer. However, instead of overturning the punishment, the court reportedly more than doubled the punishment for the woman, sentencing her to 200 lashes and six months in jail after being found guilty of indecency and talking to the media.
Middle East Monitor reports Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, who defended the woman, reached out to the media after the sentences were handed down. The court has since banned him from further defending the woman, as well as confiscating his license and summoning him to a disciplinary hearing.
Saudi Arabia defended the controversial decision to punish the victim, saying:
The Ministry of Justice welcomes constructive criticism, away from emotions.
In Saudi Arabia, women are second class citizens, treated more like children than adults. Women are required to dress in black from head to toe, and require permission from a male guardian to work, to marry, to simply leave the home.
Adding insult to injury, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which does not allow women to drive.
In Saudi Arabia there is no political freedom, no religious freedom, no freedom of speech. It is, in fact, one of the most repressive regimes in recent history, and an affront to human rights and human dignity.
In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of the very few countries in the world not to accept the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
More on the Qatif rape case: