Saudis Defend Decision to Lash Rape Victims
The Saudi Arabian justice ministry has defended the high court’s decision to lash and imprison a 19-year-old girl and her male friend, both of whom were gang-raped last year. The two are being punished for “illegal mingling” of the sexes and, unofficially, taking their story to the media. The leading Democratic candidates have all signaled their outrage, but the Bush administration has adopted a mind-your-own-business approach.
The 19-year-old, who has not been named, was travelling in a car with a male friend last year, when the car was attacked by a gang of seven men who raped both of them.
She has become known as the “Qatif girl”, a reference to the largely Shia town which she comes from.
Four of the men were convicted of kidnapping – but the court also sentenced the woman and her friend to receive 90 lashes each for the crime of “illegal mingling”.
Last week the court increased the woman’s sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.