The Saudi Justice Department has defended the grotesque sentence of a woman to 200 lashes after she was gang raped because, it recently revealed, she was in an “illegitimate relationship” with the man who was also assaulted.Her flogging was due to the fact that both of the victims had “exposed themselves to this heinous crime.”It is astonishing how out of touch a government could be. The Saudi government stated that it was “forced … to clarify the role of the woman and the man who was accompanying her in this case and its circumstances” due to false media reports. The only factual issue, however, is irrelevant: the fact that she may have met this man for a tryst.
The government statement said that according to the woman’s signed confession, she called a man on her cell phone and “asked to be with him alone, illegally.” The two met at a marketplace, then rode in the man’s car to “a dark area of the beach, and stayed there for some time,” the ministry said. The group of attackers “saw her in a compromising situation, her clothes on the ground,” the statement said. “The men at this point assaulted her and the man with her.” The woman knew that being alone with a man who wasn’t her husband was illegal, “and therefore she violated the covenant of marriage.”
What is really at issue is the distortion of a justice system by such penal morality laws — something this country had at one time. For a prior column, click here For the latest on the Saudi story, click here