Blame, Jail, and Torture The Victim

This is the kind of story that makes it difficult to remain culturally relativistic. it also makes it hard to look at women who are in purdah walking around in a “free” country like the US and not, in part blame them for compliance.

A woman was gang raped in Saudi Arabia. Fourteen times. Seven men are now in jail, convicted of rape and serving sentences up to five years. In Saudi Arabia, I think five years is a lot for violently raping a woman.

The woman who was raped, however, was sentenced to be tortured for being in the car of a “strange man.”

In this case, the torture would involve 90 lashes. She appealed. The court, because of her appeal, changed the sentence from 90 lashes to 200 lashes. The courts punished the girl because she, allegedly, tried to “aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.” The victim’s lawyer was also punished.

Obviously, the Saudis, their government, and their society, are totally fucked. That is my considered anthropological opinion of the matter.

But don’t worry. If anything bad threatens Saudi Arabia, the United States is there to protect them with the full strength of our military.

Comments

  1. #1 the real cmf
    November 18, 2007

    I appreciate your objectivity here, because it is (relative, culturally, to the US and the west in general)almost sacrilegious to in any way blame women for the plight of women, and indeed women are to blame.
    re: “makes it hard to look at women who are in purdah walking around in a “free” country like the US and not, in part blame them for compliance.”

    The Saudi’s, and Islamic fanatics et al are a human rights nightmare, and it was indeed pathetic beyond words to see how our president in collusion with them, sheltered the Bin Ladens in the wake of 9/11, moving our country one step closer to the same fanatic hypocrisy of these other nations.

    Isn’t cultural relativism mainly a concept we apply to “non-civilized” peoples, i.e. Kayandangs, or Jivaro practices in South America, versus “civilized” societies–those with science mathematics, and governments ?

  2. #2 Richard Parker
    November 18, 2007

    I’d like to reproduce this blog post verbatim in my own blog (wth full attribution) but you don’t give any source for this urban legend – is it real?

    I don’t give much more for the Saudis (not all of them, just the Nejdis from Riyadh) but I think you have to substantiate what you report outside your own area of expertise just as much as you do in it.

  3. #3 Evan
    November 18, 2007

    It was simple enough to find on BBC news:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7098480.stm

    That, and I read about it a couple days ago.

  4. #4 Serena
    November 18, 2007

    Greg,
    Can you explain what you mean by, “In Saudi Arabia, I think five years is a lot for violently raping a woman.” I think the statement can be taken a couple of ways, and I want to be sure I understand your meaning.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    November 18, 2007

    Serena,

    What I mean is this: Although the crime of Rape in Saudi law can carry the punishment of beheading, it is rarely even prosecuted in this patriarchal society. It is only because of the extreme nature of this particular story that anyone was even arrested, let alone tried, let along convicted.

    Richard: What urban legend are you talking about? Do you mean the rape itself? Yes, strangely enough I do not cite a source … an oversight on my part. It is in every news outlet and it is a major story. There is no urban legend here. Evan provides, in fact, one of the very sources I read.

    There is no issue here of expertise. I’m simply stating my personal opinion. I’m appalled that a woman would be raped over a dozen times and then sentenced to 90 lashes, and on appeal, the sentence increased.

    CMF: I admit I was thinking of Moore’s film while I wrote this.

  6. #6 Colugo
    November 18, 2007

    Similar judicial injustices also routinely occur in Sudan, Iran, and other sharia republics
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article2859606.ece

    “Britain regularly challenges Iran about its gay hangings, stonings and executions of adulterers and perceived moral criminals, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) papers show.
    The latest row involves a woman hanged this June in the town of Gorgan after becoming pregnant by her brother. He was absolved after expressing his remorse.”

    Do you think Saudi Arabia is a single party problem?

    Mother Jones, 1999: Clinton’s arm sales to Saudi Arabia
    http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/arms/saudi.html

    “President Clinton has approved $23.8 billion in licenses and sales to Saudi Arabia since 1993, including some of the most sophisticated weapons the U.S. produces…”

    Gore in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2006: US should ease regulations on visas for Saudis
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0213-03.htm

    Carter’s close friendship with Prince Bandar
    http://www.newwest.net/index.php/main/article/2390/