Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saudi Law: Can't Punish Female Victims Too Harshly & Gay Sex Is OK If It's Rape By Men Also Raping A Woman, Pt. 2

Before I return to the topic at hand, I want to make two points clear. Although organized religion does not work for me at all, I strongly believe in and very much admire genuine spirituality. I define "genuine" spirituality as that which places a powerful emphasis on tolerance, kindness, honesty, empathy, generosity and humility. I've read quite a bit on the subject. I have attended the services of many different faiths.

Islam sports a number of characteristics that impress me. The priority Islam places on fostering the community and the requisite discipline (perhaps best exemplified by the Salah or compulsory ritual daily prayers) are but two. Having lived for years in a Muslim-rich inner city neighborhood, I found Muslims to be excellent neighbors. I believe in my heart that most Muslims practice Islam is as a religion of peace. Unfortunately (and exactly analogous to fundamentalist Christianity), the fundamentalist form of Islam is a perversion of spirituality rife with intolerance and riddled with hypocrisy.

Few incidents have exposed this intolerance and hypocrisy more clearly than the case of an engaged to be married Shiite woman attacked, kidnapped and brutally gang raped by 5 Sunni men. This woman was thought to be "fair game" because they determined she had an "inappropriate" meeting with a man not related to her. (She has steadfastly maintained she was being blackmailed by this man. Her account best explains why she would ever take such a risk). Having deputized themselves in their own minds, these self-styled vigilantes appointed themselves judge and jury too. Her punishment was a fait accompli as was their role as her punishers.

These pigs later bragged about their heinous crimes confident her family would disown her. They expected her fiancé to break their engagement. They were certain they would escape prosecution because they were Sunni and their victims were Shiite. They depended on her shame and that of her family, at what they did to her, to end the story there. In fact, her brother did try to kill her. But it was her now-husband's response that was completely unanticipated. Upon learning of the atrocity committed upon his betrothed, her husband filed a complaint with the police. After an investigation, the case went to court.

The BBC makes clear the extent to which the burden of proof is skewed against women once a "sexual offense" reaches the Sharia legal system:

In Islamic law, both adultery and rape require four witnesses to be present at the "act". A woman's evidence is still only worth half of a man's, and in adultery cases she cannot be a witness at all.
It comes as no surprise that the Saudi rapists were not actually convicted of rape. They were convicted of the lesser charge of kidnapping supposedly because prosecutors could not prove rape. Per Human Rights Watch:
The judges reportedly ignored evidence from a mobile phone video in which the attackers recorded the assault.
Under Sharia law "unproved rape is fornication, punishable by stoning." Despite ample evidence to the contrary the married rapists also avoided being charged with "Zina" (adultery) which is also deemed "fornication." Evidently the Saudi courts give married Sunni men a free pass on "fornication" with a Shiite woman as long as that woman was in public and unaccompanied by a Sharia-required "guardian" i.e. a husband/male member of immediate family).

This is post is running longer far longer than expected. I'll wrap it up with Part 3 tomorrow.

Si Fractus Fortis