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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The barbaric justice of Saudi Arabia

What can you say about this story?

Well, Udo Schuklenk has a bit to say about it, and doesn't mince words. I'm sure the folks who comment at RichardDawkins.net will have some worthwhile observations, too, though the first few comments are a bit off-topic or otherwise disheartening.

The simple facts are that a 19-year-old woman was gang-raped fourteen times in an atrocious attack by seven men. The men were initially sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years. But the victim was also punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other; at the time of the attack she was in an unrelated man's car.

On appeal, the rapists' terms were doubled but the punishment for the woman was increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.

This is an extreme version of traditional Abrahamic sexual morality, of course, but I don't see it as an aberration. There's a kind of horrible logic to it, once you start looking at relations between the sexes in a certain way (don't even get me started on traditional Abrahamic attitudes to homosexuality).


Anonymous said...

The victim's lawyer was suspended from the case, has had his licence to work confiscated, and faces a disciplinary session.

I have heard of the lawyer in this case: obviously a brave and humane man.


No wonder the powers that be want him out of their courtrooms. It may be one of the reasons they are torturing (there is no other term for it) this poor girl is to get to him.


Resists urge to swear dreadfully.

N.B. I would post this on RD net, but I am one of the users hit by the login problems. I now know what it is like to be trolled! Very frustrating.


Aragon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aragon said...

islamic morality in full action. yet another case indicating how barbaric, inhumane and unjust islamic law and ideology can be.

Russell Blackford said...

Meanwhile in America, we have some jurisdictions enacting laws against the teenage fashion for wearing low-cut, underpants-exposing jeans.

I'm sure that the lash isn't used as a punishment, and I'm not suggesting a moral equivalence here. I'd just like countries like America, which purport to be in favour of freedom - and even fighting to preserve it - to stop interfering with the detail of people's lives. Surely freedom includes the freedom of teenagers to wear the latest silly fashions.

See Udo on this:


Russell Blackford said...

Getting back to the original issue, though, the question is what, if anything, can be done to help?

Stuart Peace said...

Not much, I wouldn't think, any effort by westerners to help is not met well.

I guess convincing the educated moderate Saudi's that it is there responsibility to help things change is all I can think of.

Russell Blackford said...

Someone on the Dawkins site suggested writing to an Arab news site that has the latest on the story, but as I said over there it may actually be harmful to her cause. If a lot of us decadent Westerners start criticising the country and its laws as barbaric, or whatever, that may be taken out on the victim.

You're no doubt right, Stuart. It's all very well sounding off, as I've done here, or even using this case to make some kind of point, but there's little we can do as individuals to help in such situations.

Coathangrrr said...

Getting back to the original issue, though, the question is what, if anything, can be done to help?

I don't know that there is a whole lot we can do in this specific case, but I think there is a lot to be done in the long term. One of the reasons we see these sort of regimes, indeed many despotic regimes, is because of the set up of the international economic system. I think Pogge gets it right when he looks at ownership of resources as one of the problems.

I also think we, as individuals can act now to reduce the power of these regimes. I don't buy diamonds because I know that many of them will support corrupt regimes. I also try to not use oil, in its myriad forms, despite its ubiquity in western society. Because this judge that sentences the woman was paid with oil revenues, as are the guards at the prison she will go to and the person who will lash her.

Jender said...

Apparently the man with the woman was also raped, but this hasn't been widely reported: feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2007/11/19/raped-men-and-silence/

Russell Blackford said...

The plot does thicken, then.