No, the sentence of 200 lashes handed down to a Saudi girl for being alone with a man before being attacked and brutally gang-raped by 7 other men has NOT been reversed. But it has been “clarified“, according to CNN:
The Justice Ministry acknowledged in its statement Tuesday that the [young woman’s] attorney is no longer on the case, saying he was punished by a disciplinary committee for lawyers because he “exhibited disrespectful behavior toward the court, objected to the rule of law and showed ignorance concerning court instructions and regulations.”
It added that the permanent committee of the Supreme Judicial Council recommended an increased sentence for the woman after further evidence against her came to light when she appealed her original sentence.
The judges of that committee also increased the sentences for the perpetrators based on the level of their involvement in the crime. Their sentences — which had been two to three years in prison — were increased to two to nine years, according to al-Lahim [the girl’s former lawyer].
While it is appropriate to punish the brutes who molested the girl harshly, what does that have to do with the scourging the Saudi authorities intend to inflict on her? Nothing, of course.
The ministry also said it welcomes constructive criticism and insisted that the parties’ rights were preserved in the judicial process.
“We would like to state that the system has ensured them the right to object to the ruling and to request an appeal,” the statement continued, “without resorting to sensationalism through the media that may not be fair or may not grant anyone any rights, and instead may negatively affect all the other parties involved in the case.”
The victim’s additional crime, and that of her lawyer – who faces the prospect of being disbarred – it seems, is daring to speak out against the ridiculous scribblings that pass for law in their country.
Under law in Saudi Arabia, women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and a requirement that they get a man’s permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote.
The girl and her lawyer may not be going it alone forever, though.
The case has sparked outrage among human rights groups.
“This is not just about the Qatif girl, it’s about every woman in Saudi Arabia,” said Fawzeyah al-Oyouni, founding member of the newly formed Saudi Association for the Defense of Women’s Rights.
“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.
“Barring the lawyer from representing the victim in court is almost equivalent to the rape crime itself,” she added.
Pretty strong words.
But looking on the bright side:
The Saudi government recently has taken some steps toward bettering the situation of women in the kingdom, including the establishment earlier this year of special courts to handle domestic abuse cases, adoption of a new labor law that addresses working women’s rights and creation of a human rights commission.
Yet I have to wonder…what rights are those, exactly?