19-Year-Old Gang Rape Victim Sentenced To 200 Lashes and 6 Months in Jail in Saudi

Rape remains to be a global problem that needs to be eradicated the soonest time possible as people who suffer from it may or may not get back on their feet due to the long-term psychological, emotional, physical effects that they will be dealing with. But what would you do if you are the one who was raped, but you ended up getting punished for it instead?

A 19-year-old gang rape victim was shockingly sentenced to 200 lashes and to six months in jail for the crime of indecency and speaking to the press. It is a known fact that a Saudi Arabian woman must be accompanied by a male guardian at all times in public. The rape victim was proven to have violated this law by meeting a friend to retrieve a picture. The rape incident happened in 2006. It occurred as she only tried to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she knew. While they are on a car, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area. She said she was raped there by seven men, three of them also attacked and raped her male friend.

The case was referred back to the General Court by an appeals court last summer, after the woman’s lawyer contested the initial verdict, saying it was too lenient for the rapists and unjust for the victim.

Saudi Arabia defended a controversial verdict which sentenced a 19-year-old gang rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in jail. The Shi’ite Muslim woman had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicted of violating Saudi Arabia’s rigid Islamic Sharia law on segregation of the sexes. The decision was made by the Saudi General Court. The court also roughly doubled the prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping her. The decision to punish the victim as well never failed to trigger international debates and uproar. Some of the reactions from international institutions were the following:

“Barbaric” - Jose Verger, the Canadian minister responsible for the status of women

  “(The Verdict) not only sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the perpetrators.”- The New York based Human Rights Watch

“I think when you look at the crime and the fact that now the victim is punished, I think that causes a fair degree of surprise and astonishment. It is within the power of the Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it.” - Sean McCormack, U.S. State Department spokesman

Despite the comments made and the controversy reaching the global press, Saudi Judiciary defended their decision.

 “The Ministry of Justice welcomes constructive criticism, away from emotions,”

Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, The woman’s lawyer, had reached out to the media. The court has since banned him from further defending the woman, confiscating his license and summoning him to a disciplinary hearing later this month. The justice ministry implied the victim’s sentence was increased because she had spoken out to the press.

“For whoever has an objection on verdicts issued, the system allows to appeal without resorting to the media.”


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