It seems that nothing is about to change in Saudi Arabia in a hurry when it comes to women’s rights. I am not a feminist, and it is probably the reason that I feel so angry about the way in which women are treated in Muslim Sharia dominated lands. The feminist movement on the whole has shown little in the way of outrage at the way that women are treated in such countries as Saudi Arabia. However, I do feel outrage, especially when the 19 year old and her boyfriend were both raped by a gang of 7 men, and yet both have been sentenced to 90 lashes because of the offense of “mingling”.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have defended a judicial sentence of 200 lashes for a rape victim.
The justice ministry said in a statement that the sentence was justified because the woman was in a car with an unrelated man.
The case has aroused controversy at home and condemnation abroad.
US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said the sentence was an outrage and urged President Bush to put pressure on Saudi King Abdullah.
The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them.
She has become known as the “Qatif girl”, a reference to the largely Shia town which she comes from.
Four of the men were convicted of kidnapping – but the court also sentenced the woman and her friend to receive 90 lashes each for the crime of “illegal mingling”.
Last week the court increased the woman’s sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.
It also banned her lawyer from the courtroom and took away his licence.
The Saudi justice ministry has defended the verdict and warned against “agitation through the media” – a sign of how sensitive the authorities are to the fact that the woman and her lawyer have sought to use the media to highlight the case, says BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy.
What is most alarming about this story is the fact that it is the Republicans who are remaining silent over the punishment given to the woman. It is almost breathtaking to think that the President of the USA is refusing to intervene on a matter that is against the human rights of the individual. It is in fact damning evidence that the White House seem to be in the “pay” of Saudi Arabia, which is an extremely unhealthy situation to contemplate. I hope that I am wrong on this issue, and that the silence is due to the fact that the Republicans know very little about the case. The verdict is totally disgraceful.