Saudi Arabia‚??s shame, rape victim punished
Nov 21: "Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.” Theodore Roosevelt
Once a photograph of a unanimous Afghani girl become the National Geographic magazine’s most famous photograph, who was identified 17 years later as Sharbat Gul. Today a rape victim from Qatif in Saudi Arabia has become the scrutiny of media.
This 19 year Qatif girl was abducted and raped by six men but instead of justice she got 90 lashes as punishment in October, 2006 which has been doubled to 200 lashes and 6 months prison after an appeal by the victim’s lawyer, who said that the sentence was unjust for victim. The punishment was enhanced for aggravating the matter and speaking it to media to influence the courts.
This matter has sent a shock wave to the international community and human rights concerns.
But the Saudi Arabia’s Judiciary remains unaltered by the reaction and said that the charges are proved against women for being in the car with an unrelated male and criticised her lawyer Rahman al- Lahim talking insolently against judicial system.
"For whomever has an objection on verdicts issued, the system allows to appeal without resorting to the media," said the statement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency.
The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that it welcomes constructive criticism, away from emotions and said that the woman has contentedly accepted the verdict against her.
Accusing Al–Lahim of ignorance and reaching out to media the court banned him for further defending the woman and seized his license.
Saudi Arabia is governed by a system religious court based on strict Islamic Shariat law according to which women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than relatives.
The justice delivery system depends on the impulse of Judges who posses wide discretion in punishing a criminal.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said 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."
While Sean McCormack US State Department spokesman said “It is within the Saudi Government’s ability to take a look at this sentence and to make changes in it.”
“We have expressed our astonishment at such a sentence. I think that 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.
Shariat law is the legal framework within which the public and some private aspects of life are regulated for those living in a legal system based on Muslim principles of jurisprudence and for Muslims living outside the domain.
There is no strictly static codified set of laws of Shariat hence the interpretation of the law becomes an important thing.
This punishment also contradicts King Abdullah statement to introduce reforms in judicial system. Saudi Arabia being too vociferous telling the decision to punish the victim shows the state being governed by the fixed ancient and outdated rules.
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