Saudi Rape Victim To Be Given 200 Lashes And Jail Term

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 19 2007 8:09 PM

Not withstanding the agony and trauma of being gang-raped, a woman has been sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes by a Saudi court.

This punishment is double the initial penalty for “being in the car of a man who was not a relative”.

The shocking verdict by the Qatif General Court resounds over this case which sparked rare debate about the kingdom's justice system, when it came up more than a year ago.

In its decision Wednesday, the court also roughly doubled the prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping the 19-year-old woman.

According to Arab News, the court gave that the woman's punishment was increased because of "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

The victim had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicted of violating Saudi's rigid laws on segregation of the sexes.

Under Saudi Arabia's interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not permitted in public in the company of men other than their male relatives. The initial sentences for the men convicted of the gang rape range from 10 months to five years in prison. Their new sentences range from two to nine years, sources gave.

The attack took place in 2006, when the woman tried to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. While in the car with the student, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area. The victim claimed she was raped there by seven men, three of whom also attacked her friend.

Reports of the story sparked hot debates about Saudi Arabia's legal system. Here judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are usually shaky and sometimes there are no defense lawyers. The results are sentences left to the whim of judges.

The woman was identified in the media only as the Girl from Qatif. The case had been sent back to the General Court by an appeals court last summer. This was after the woman's attorney argued the verdict was too lenient for the rapists and unjust for the victim.