The Girl From Qatif: Saudi Woman Lashed And Jailed After Own Rape
International

A Saudi Woman Was Sentenced To Public Whipping And Jail... After Her Own Gang Rape

Originally, the seven men who committed the crime were sentenced to lesser punishments, her lawyer was disbarred for defending her, and her punishment was doubled for speaking to the press.

126

Content warning: Sexual assault

Among the most audacious and cruel crimes against women abroad of slews of acid attacks, brutal murders, child marriages, and the loss of agency and education — the case of the Qatif girl stands out. This case compels the question: Do acts of violence become less a crime just because a particular government sanctions them?

In 2006, a woman who was raped by seven men (whose identity is obscured for her protection) was sentenced by a judge to 90 public lashings and time in jail. When she spoke out against this punishment to media sources, her sentence was doubled to 200 public lashings and six months in jail.

Even her lawyer was attacked and disbarred for deigning to defend her. The Guardian explains: "The victim's lawyer, a prominent human rights defender, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, was suspended from the case as a result of the appeal and his licence, granted to Saudi lawyers by the ministry of justice, has (was) been revoked." To make matters worse, her attackers were given relatively lenient prison sentences of 10 months - five years, where rape is supposed to a capital crime.

Her crime? Being out of her home unchaperoned in the presence of an unrelated man — in their eyes of the judges: she was asking for it. Her crime was that of "indecency."

Not only was this 18-year-old woman raped several times by each of the seven perpetrators, the man whom she was meeting that day to obtain old photographs was also raped. He too, was jailed for his part in luring the young woman into a car, alone with him knowing full well it is illegal in Saudi Arabia for a woman to go outside of the home unchaperoned.

Furthermore, "The women in Saudi Arabia don't have the right to go anywhere without their husband or a male relative. This male person who accompanies a woman is called a Mahram. Without his approval, a woman can't leave the country, get a job, get married, enter a University or even have surgery."

Saudia Arabia is a monarchy. This is important to consider when examining the cause and effect scenarios of this case. This country is based on paradigms vastly different than ones we are used to--and ones that call into question whether or not a country should be allowed to operate in a certain way if it violates an international standard of human rights.

Thankfully international attention flocked to this case, and enough light was shined that the countries King pardoned both victims of any guilt, and the rapists' sentences were increased. Telegraph UK reports:

Saudi Justice Minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed, told the newspaper that the pardon did not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the "interests of the people."
"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," he said.
The victim's husband welcomed the news. "I'm happy and my wife is happy and it will of course help lift some of her psychological and social suffering. We thank the king for his generous attention and fatherly spirit."

Although a relief to hear that justice prevailed in this situation, it is still deeply troubling the lengths in which a judicial body will go to keep a woman from speaking out.

In a 2007 interview with ABC (that has now been taken down) the woman who will remain nameless was given a chance to tell her story. Although her words and right to speak out have been scourged by the Saudi Arabian Government, the imprint of them will forever last on the internet.

This quotation contains graphic and possibly triggering testimonial of a brutal assault and may be difficult to read. Discretion is adviced:

"I [am] 19 years old. I had a relationship with someone on the phone. We were both 16. I had never seen him before. I just knew his voice. He started to threaten me, and I got afraid. He threatened to tell my family about the relationship. Because of the threats and fear, I agreed to give him a photo of myself.
A few months [later], I asked him for the photo back but he refused. I had gotten married to another man. He said, 'I'll give you the photo on the condition that you come out with me in my car.' I told him we could meet at a souk [market] near my neighborhood city plaza in Qatif.
He started to drive me home. We were 15 minutes from my house. I told him that I was afraid and that he should speed up. We were about to turn the corner to my house when they [another car] stopped right in front of our car. Two people got out of their car and stood on either side of our car. The man on my side had a knife. They tried to open our door. I told the individual with me not to open the door, but he did. He let them come in. I screamed.
One of the men brought a knife to my throat. They told me not to speak. They pushed us to the back of the car and started driving.
We drove a lot, but I didn't see anything since my head was forced down....When we arrived I noticed a lot of palm trees. They took me out to a dark area and forced me to take off my clothes. The first man with the knife raped me. He destroyed me. I thought about running away but where could I go to looking like this? Another man came in and did the same. I was about to faint.
For more than two hours I asked them to leave me alone, I begged them. The third man was violent and the fourth almost strangled me. The fifth and sixth were even more brutal. When the seventh man finished I couldn't feel myself anymore. He was so fat I couldn't breathe. Then they all did it again. When they dropped me home I couldn't walk, my mom opened the door and said I looked sick. I couldn't tell anyone and for a whole week I couldn't eat, but later I went to the hospital"

It is no secret that a woman's agency is restricted within the boundaries of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not only is her agency highly regulated, her voice and her body are considered property. It's hard to imagine in the United States what it would truly be like to live under these laws because we take things like driving, learning in school, and going for a walk for granted. In Saudi Arabia, even driving as a woman can get you jailed or, worse.

Imagine what it is like in the Qatif girl's shoes — to be punished for being victimized. I'd imagine there had to be a better future for women and girls all over the world.

Disclaimer: For the purposes of this article, I do not intend to discourse with Saudi Arabia as a country, or the laws governed by Islamic rule. Although detest and actively fight against unfair sanction and subjection of women by an encompassing authority, I do not claim to be knowledgeable of the intricate sociology-political religious systems of such countries. My purpose here is to illuminate this trial, give the victims a voice, and use their experience as an example of misogynistic influence in world governments and how it is different and similar to attitudes toward women and rape in the United States.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Everyone remembers the first time they went to one of the Disney parks. Spinning in teacups and having Goofy wrap his arms around my 8-year-old self were some of my fondest childhood memories, and I'm surely not alone in that.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These Superfood Beauty Products Show Kale And Matcha Work For SO Much More Than We Thought

Just another summer's day with a cold glass of kombucha on my face.

I've been vegan for about six years now, so a love for fresh vegetables and superfoods has now become a core part of my being. Don't get me wrong. I love my indulgent, creamy pastas and truffle fries more than anyone. But I keep most of my focus on eating clean and healthy so I can indulge guilt-free.

But I'd say about a large part of my diet has always, unknowingly, included superfoods. Being Indian, lentils, beetroot, garlic, ginger, and whole grains have been core essentials on the family dinner table since I could digest solid foods.

Keep Reading... Show less

Now that college is around the corner for most if not all young adults, students once shook by a pandemic now have to shift their focus on achieving their career goals. As if we thought we had it together already! As an NYC girl, I have always seen myself as a hustler, hungry to advance my career in journalism by having one skill: working hard.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 BBQ Essentials Every Vegan Should Bring To Avoid Summer Cookout FOMO

You'll have your whole family drooling when you bring these goodies over too.

All vegetarians and vegans can relate when I say this: summer barbecues aren't fun when there's nothing you can eat.

Keep Reading... Show less

Kourtney Kardashian has decided to leave "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" after nearly 14 years and although we saw this coming, it breaks our heart that she won't be there to make us laugh with her infamous attitude and hilarious one-liners.

Kourtney is leaving the show because it was taking up too much of her life and it was a "toxic environment" for her.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

We Asked You How You Felt About Resuming 'Normal' Activities, And Some Of Your Answers Shocked Us

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they'd feel comfortable doing "normal" activities again, considering COVID-19. We asked our peers the same thing, for science.

Last month, the New York Times surveyed about 500 epidemiologists asking about their comfort level with certain activities once deemed normal — socializing with friends, going to the doctor, bringing in the mail. That's all well and good for the experts, but they are a very niche group, not the majority of the population. What do "normal" people feel safe doing? In certain states, we've seen how comfortable everyone is with everything (looking at you, Florida), but we wanted to know where Odyssey's readers fell on the comfort scale. Are they sticking with the epidemiologists who won't be attending a wedding for another year, or are they storming the sunny beaches as soon as possible?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments