23 November, 2007

Saudi Kidnap, Rape Victim Faces Lashing for 'Crime' of Being Alone With Man Not Related to Her ?

* Woman, 19, gets six months prison, 200 lashes for meeting with unrelated man
* Group of seven raped her and the man, from whom she was retrieving photos
* After lawyer protests light sentences, rapists’ sentences increased
* Victim’s punishment doubled for talking to the media


A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country's Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the "crime" of being alone with a man not related to her.

The woman is appealing to Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in the controversial case.

"I ask the king to consider me as one of his own daughters and have mercy on me and set me free from the 90 lashes," the woman said in an emotional interview published Monday in the Saudi Gazette.

"I was shocked at the verdict. I couldn't believe my ears. Ninety lashes! Ninety lashes!" the woman, identified only as "G," told the English-language newspaper.

Five months after the harsh judgment, her sentence has yet to be carried out, "G" said she waits in fear every day for the phone call telling her to submit to authorities to carry out her punishment.

Lashes are usually spread over several days. About 50 lashes are given at a time.

The woman's ordeal began a year ago when she was blackmailed into meeting a man who threatened to tell her family they were having a relationship outside wedlock, which is illegal in the desert kingdom, according to a report in The Scotsman newspaper.

She met the man at a shopping mall and, after driving off together, the blackmailer's car was stopped by two other cars bearing men wielding knives and meat cleavers.

During the next three hours, the woman was raped 14 times by her seven captors.

One of the men took pictures of her naked with his mobile phone and threatened to blackmail her with them.

Back at home in a town near the eastern city of Qatif, the young woman did not tell her family of her ordeal. Nor did she inform the authorities, fearing the rapist would circulate the pictures of her naked. She also attempted suicide.

Five of the rapists were arrested and given jail terms ranging from 10 months to five years. The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty for the men.

The Saudi justice ministry, however, said rape could not be proved because there were no witnesses and the men had recanted confessions they made during interrogation.

The judges, basing their decision on Islamic law, also decided to sentence the woman and her original blackmailer to lashes for being alone together in his car.


Meanwhile, a Saudi Arabian human rights attorney is asking the government to allow him to represent a woman who was gang-raped — and then sentenced to prison for speaking out about the case.

The attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, had his license revoked last week by a judge for speaking to the Saudi-controlled media about the case, al-Lahim told CNN.

The judge more than doubled the sentence against al-Lahim’s 19-year-old client because she spoke to the media about the case, a court source told Arab News, an English-language Middle Eastern daily newspaper.

The case has sparked outrage among human rights groups.

Barring the lawyer from representing the victim in court is almost equivalent to the rape crime itself, said Fawzeyah al-Oyouni, founding member of the newly formed Saudi Association for the Defense of Women’s Rights.

This is not just about the girl, it’s about every woman in Saudi Arabia, she said. We’re fearing for our lives and the lives of our sisters and our daughters and every Saudi woman out there. We’re afraid of going out in the streets.

Human Rights Watch said it has called on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to immediely void the verdict and drop all charges against the rape victim and to order the court to end its harassment of her lawyer.


Help Young Saudi Woman "G", sign petition here.

Read also Lashing, stoning, mutilating: Islamic law is barbaric and outdated. Defend the case of Islam. by Abdullah Mohammed

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