No matter how bizarre it may sound, when in public, women in Saudi Arabia must be accompanied by a male guardian, typically by a family member. A 19-year-old girl violated this Saudi Arabia`s rigid Islamic Sharia law by meeting a friend in public without an escort.
Soon after that, the same girl fell victim to gang rape and was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes for speaking to the press and committing a crime of indecency. It all started when she went to see a male friend and got into his car to retrieve her picture. Then, two other men got into their car and drove them both to a secluded area where her friend was physically attacked and she was raped by seven men.
By upholding this decision the Saudi General Court and the country itself triggered an international outcry.
Jose Verger, a Canadian minister has described this sentence as “barbaric ” and plans to file a complaint to the Saudi`s authorities.
According to the New York based Human Rights Watch this verdict “not only sends victims of sexual violence the message that they should not press charges, but in effect offers protection and impunity to the perpetrators.”
Even the U.S. State Department was surprised and astonished by this verdict and (unofficially) thinks that the Saudi government should reconsider and change its decision.
The official statement issued by the Saudi General Court clearly states that the “charges were proven” because she was seen in a car with an unknown man. The Court has also criticized her lawyer for talking “defiantly” about their system, for showing ignorance and he was even banned from defending the girl for reached out to the media.
However, after all criticism, the Saudi judiciary stands by its decision, welcoming only constructive criticism, separated from emotions.
Although the rape took place several years ago, recently the case went back to the General Court because the woman`s lawyer contested the initial verdict since it was too lenient for the attackers and unjust for the victim.