We’ve got oil, we can do whatever we want

If you want to go back in time and experience life in the Middle Ages, just visit Saudi Arabia and seeSaudi
how they treat women. It’s abominable. Nothing illustrates it better than the case of the rape victim who’s been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison. A group of seven men raped her, one by one, and now the Saudi justice system is taking its turn.

The case, which has sparked media scrutiny of the Saudi legal
system, centers on a married woman. The 19-year-old and an unrelated
man were abducted, and she was raped by a group of seven men more than
a year ago, according to Abdulrahman al-Lahim, the attorney who
represented her in court.

The woman was originally sentenced in
October 2006 to 90 lashes. But that sentence was more than doubled to
200 lashes and six months in prison by the Qatif General Court, because
she spoke to the media about the case, a court source told Middle
Eastern daily newspaper Arab News.

Al-Lahim told CNN his law
license was revoked last week by a judge because he spoke to the
Saudi-controlled media about the case. [Link]

She was sentenced to the original 90 lashes, it appears, because she met a man she wasn’t related to, which is against Saudi law. In most countries, people wouldn’t even think of lashing a dog or other animal, but in Saudi Arabia, it’s business as usual. How bad is it over there? People who get lashed feel utterly lucky, saying to themselves, "At least they’re not beheading me."

White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend, who announced
her resignation Monday, called the case "absolutely reprehensible" but
told CNN’s "American Morning" the Saudis deserve credit for their
assistance in battling terrorism. "This case is separate and apart from
that, and I just don’t think there’s any explaining it or justifying
it," she added. [Link]

No, they don’t deserve any credit for battling terrorism, not when they’re committing atrocities against their own citizens. What they really deserve is an embargo. Better yet, appoint Rosie O’Donnell as the new ambassador to Saudi Arabia. That’ll teach ’em.

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. [Link]

But on the bright side, women are allowed to decide for themselves how much salt to add to the Tabbouleh.

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. [Link]

Members of the human rights commission get only 70 lashes when they talk to the media.

Photo by Mujib.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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