Gang-raped Saudi teenager recounts her horror storyNovember 30th, 2007 - 2:06 pm ICT by admin
London, Nov.30 (ANI): A Saudi teenager who was gang raped and bizarrely sentenced to receive 200 lashes by that countrys judicial system, has claimed that she has struggled to get the police to take action, and is simply distressed by her harrowing court appearances.
According to The Independent, the victim who has simply been identified as the “Qatif Girl”, said that while her plight has made international headlines and caused acute embarrassment to the House of Saud, her ordeal began with a telephone call.
“I had a relationship with someone on the phone,” she recounted to Human Rights Watch.
“We were both 16. I had never seen him before. I just knew his voice. He started to threaten me, and I got afraid. He threatened to tell my family about the relationship. Because of the threats and fear, I agreed to give him a photo of myself,” she said.
A few months later, she said, after she had been married to another man, she became concerned that the photograph might be misused and asked the boy to return it.
He accepted on the condition that she would meet him and go for a drive with him. She agreed, reluctantly, to meet the boy at a nearby market. They were driving towards her home when a second car stopped in front of them, she said.
“I told the individual with me not to open the door, but he did. He let them come in. I screamed,” she added.
She and her companion were taken to a secluded spot where they were both raped, many times. “They forced me out of the car. They pushed me really hard. I yelled out, ‘Where are you taking me? I’m like your sister.’ They took me to a dark place. Then two men came in. The first man with the knife raped me. I was destroyed. If I tried to escape, I don’t even know where I would go. I tried to force them off, but I couldn’t. In my heart, I didn’t even feel anything after that. I spent two hours begging them to take me home,” she said.
The second man then raped her, then a third.
“There was a lot of violence,” she said. In the hours that followed her attackers told the girl they knew she was married. A fourth man and then a fifth raped her too.
“The fifth one took a photo of me like this. I tried to cover my face, but they didn’t let me.”
Her ordeal continued after the fifth rape. Two more men, one with his face covered entered the room and raped her. She repeatedly asked what time it was and was told 1am. Afterwards all seven men came back and the girl was raped again.
Today she lives under effective house arrest. She is forbidden to speak and may be taken into custody at any time.
The religious police monitors her familys movements and their telephones are tapped.
Her lawyer, Saudi Arabia’s foremost human rights advocate, Abd al-Rahman al-Lahem, has been suspended. He has had his passport confiscated and faces a hearing next week in which he may be disbarred.
The crime of “Qatif girl”, it seems, has been to refuse to be silent about what has happened to her.
The 19-year-old first sought to bring to justice the seven men who raped her, then complained in public when the courts saw fit to sentence her to 90 lashes for “mingling”, the crime of being out in public with a male who was not her relative prior to the attack.
Coverage of the case this month in the usually tightly censored Saudi media infuriated the authorities. They increased her sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison. Her sentence still hangs over her.
Prince Saud al-Faisal was forced, much to his annoyance, to answer hostile questions about her case at the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis this week.
“What is outraging about this case is that it is being used against the Saudi government and people,” he told reporters.
The Saudi Justice Ministry has launched a deliberate “campaign of defamation” against the girl, said Farida Deif, a Middle East expert with Human Rights Watch, who is among the few independent observers to have met the girl.
“They are saying she is not really a victim. They are implying she was an adulteress. They are saying she was undressed before the attackers entered her car,” Deif added.
Despite the prosecution’s requests for the maximum penalty for the rapists, the Qatif court sentenced four of them to between one and five years in prison and between 80 and 1,000 lashes.
They were convicted of kidnapping, apparently because prosecutors could not prove rape. The images recorded on the mobile phone were presented in court, according to her lawyer, but the judges ignored them.
Under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives. Also, women in Saudi Arabia are often sentenced to flogging and even death for adultery and other perceived crimes.
In addition to these intimidating barriers facing the victim in a country with possibly the worst women’s rights record in the world, the girl was also a member of the persecuted Shia minority and her attackers were Sunni. This sectarian divide would be crucial to what happened next. (ANI)
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