Saudi JusticeSaudi Arabia has given women the right to stand for public office on municipal councils. This is an astonishing breakthrough. Women have much to be grateful for, in the fact that their current ruler, King Abdullah is a reformer. Women may now be employed in lingerie shops to spare female shoppers the embarrassment of being served by male employees.
Women may not yet be granted driver's licenses, and it is unlawful for women to drive on public roads, but a few have done so. They may have enjoyed the exhilarating experience of driving, not so much the experience of being flogged for doing so. As delicate creatures to be protected they may not vote, they may not travel without the permission of a male relative, and they may not be treated in a hospital that also treats males.
When popular shopping malls arrange hours when women may shop, men are excluded. Once within the confines of the mall women may, if they desire, remove themselves from the stifling confines of their full-body modesty-affirming burkas. And, in the process, breathe a little freedom. The burkas, needless to say, must be once again put in place when the women prepare to leave the confines of the mall, where they may seat themselves patiently awaiting their chauffeur-driven vehicles.
Arab women are exceedingly beautiful, and like females everywhere they are accorded to be bewitching creatures whose presence, uncovered, is capable of sending men's carefully groomed public personae into a very evil place. It is for their own good, and for the good of society in general that women in Saudi Arabia must respect the need to attire themselves in such formalized costumes designed to preserve their purity from the gaze of men.
Men, after all, cannot be expected to restrain themselves. Women have that utterly dreadful effect on men. Let a stray bit of skin be glimpsed, a lock of hair, and the devil possesses otherwise respectable men. Not, needless to say, the fault of the men incapable of resisting temptation. Therefore, to ensure that women are not molested, do not suffer the indignity and humiliation of unwanted attention, they must adhere to religious and cultural injunctions to cover themselves in respect of the social covenant.
Of course, it is rarely strangers that assault Saudi women, but rather relatives, and often very close relatives. Should a Saudi woman be assaulted, be violated by a father, a brother, an uncle, a father-in-law, it is always a result of her having invited rape, wickedly casting a Jezebel-spell over the poor male who hardly is aware of what is occurring, hapless and helpless victim to her wretched plans to despoil his honour.
When a 19-year-old Saudi woman was abducted and raped by seven men she was sentenced to 90 lashes, held culpable because she had been in a car with a man she was not related to, before the abduction took place. When, appallingly, she appealed and took steps to publicize her story to the media, her punishment was adjusted to 200 lashes and six months' imprisonment. Her lawyer's right to practise was suspended.
But thanks to the kindly intervention of a Saudi cleric help is on the way. Although, sadly this potential solution is being criticized as giving Shariah and Islam a bad name. Sheikh Abdullah Daoud in an interview on the Islamic al-Majd TV emphasized that the wearing of the veil would protect baby girls from sexual violation. He cited claims of sexual molestation against babies in Saudi Arabia, mentioning medical and security sources.
For his troubles and his sincere concerns, Sheikh Dauod has been widely condemned; some critics feel he should be held accountable for a ruling that denigrates Islam, and breaches individual privacy. That's right; 'breaches individual privacy'. Moreover, Sheikh Mohammad al-Jzlana, a former judge at the Saudi Board of Grievances, asserted to Al Arabiya that the ruling of Sheik Dauod denigrated Islam and made it look bad.
Of course, Fayhan al-Ghamdi, the Islamic cleric who raped, tortured and killed Lama al-Ghamdi, his 5-year-old daughter, has not in the least had such an effect on the reputation of Sharia law and Islam, not the least little bit. That is more than proven by the fact that he has been given a small fine, as "blood money", and no jail sentence, leaving him free to resume his clerical duties, advancing the divine faith of Islam. That will be of enormous comfort to the child's mother.
When the child was admitted to hospital on Christmas Day, 2011, she had a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns. She died October 22, 2012. Saudi women's rights groups claim the child's father had doubted her virginity. A social worker from the hospital said the child had been raped "everywhere"; her back was broken. And the child's mother said hospital staff informed her that her child's "rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed."
The ruling of payment of blood money and no further punishment for the atrocity and death of a girl child by a Muslim cleric is based on Saudi laws stipulating that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children. Husbands, as well, cannot be executed for murdering their wives. Women, after all, are such vexing creatures.