Saudi king spares rape victim

The 19-year-old no longer faces lashes and jail time.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published December 17, 2007 5:55PM (EST)

This morning there came some shockingly good news: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has reportedly pardoned the so-called Girl of Qatif. The 19-year-old gang-rape victim no longer faces 200 lashes and six months in jail for being improperly dressed in the company of an unrelated male (and thus unfairly tempting the men who happened upon the pair to repeatedly rape them both). After writing about this case for over a year, we couldn't, at least very realistically, have hoped for a better outcome.

And yet, it's worth noting the king's reason for overturning her sentence. The Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheikh, told Al Jazirah, "The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair." Her brother, by the way, has already attempted to kill her, and she has made at least one suicide attempt. In the king's eyes, the "Girl of Qatif" deserved every last one of those lashings she was sentenced to but is being spared the punishment because she's suffering to his liking (i.e., she already wants to die).

By all means, celebrate the pardon, but this won't be the last time a Saudi rape victim is sentenced to punishment for provoking her attackers.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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