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Barbaric Rule

Saudi Arabia's inhuman punishment of a rape victim

22 November 2007

Venue: Saudi Arabia Consulate, Cuff Parade, Mumbai

We protest the inhumane punishment meted out to a 19-year-old woman-victim of gang rape in Saudi Arabia. Initially ordered to face 90 lashes for 'being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape', the sentence is now enhanced to '200 lashes and six months in jail for telling her story to the news media'. We are equally dismayed that her attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim's law license was not only revoked because he disclosed the case to the Saudi-controlled media, he faces a possible three-year suspension and disbarment. The court last year sentenced the six heavily-armed men, who carried out the attack against the Shiite woman to imprisonment between one and five years. Following a retrial, the new verdict now toughens the sentences against the six men between two to nine years imprisonment, while the woman is further punished for 'her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media'.

In defense of women's rights, the undersigned groups are running an International Campaign against this shocking incident. We are distressed by the fact that far from upholding the rights of the woman the Saudi authorities say the trial and sentences are in keeping with the provisions of the Sharia and, therefore, fair. Infact, this interpretation of the Sharia amounts to nothing short of the demonisation of Islam. Under the present system, Saudi Arabia enforces a strict Islamic doctrine that forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and forces them to cover head-to-toe in public, requirement to 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.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia became a party to the 'Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women' albeit with reservations, in September 2000. The Convention defines discrimination against women as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."

We strongly believe that condonation of the sentence amounts to a mockery of the concept of justice and a mockery of women as a gender. The license of the woman's lawyer has been revoked as well. Both have had their basic human rights violated! By signing this petition, you defend the universal rights of human beings in general and strengthen the movement for women's rights in particular.

November 22, 2007
Send Protest Letters to

1. United Nations, India, 011-24628877
2. Saudi Arabia Consulate, Mumbai, 022-22182341
3. Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, New Delhi, 011-26144083
4. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. [email protected]


Organised by: Citizens for Justice and Peace, Muslims for Secular Democracy, Communalism Combat, Majlis, Women’s Centre, Awaz-e-Niswan, Muslim Intellectual Forum



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