Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Saudi Law: Can't Punish Female Victims Too Harshly & Gay Sex Is OK If It's Rape By Married Men Also Raping A Woman, Pt. 3

The first two parts of this series, here and here, document the extent to which the Saudi Sharia courts' strict interpretation of Islamic Law is blatantly punitively sexist and prejudicial. Like other countries under strict Islamic rule, Saudi courts treat women as half-citizens at best. Shiite women in a Sunni court system fare far worse. In this case, the judicial outcome was a particularly egregious parody of justice.

While presenting their case against 5 Sunni Saudi men who viciously gang raped a Shiite woman, Prosecutors were not permitted an opportunity to prove their case in court. Sunni judges refused to allow video of the crime (recorded on one rapist's cell phone) to be entered as evidence. This woman was not allowed to testify against her attackers in court. For good measure these judges charged her with "fornication" and then denied her request to defend herself against that charge. Because Saudi law can't punish female victims of sex crimes too harshly, she was convicted. Her Sunni rapists were charged with and convicted of only the least serious of their multiple offenses: kidnapping.

It's the crime not cited that exposes the hypocrisy and duplicity at the heart of the Saudi legal system (and therefore the entire Saudi government). The court turned a blind eye to, what was by this court’s own strict Sharia interpretation, the rapists' most "serious" crime of all: gay sex. Yep, these 5 married Sunni men weren't satisfied with sadistically brutalizing a Shiite woman. They also repeatedly raped her male Shiite blackmailer.

This is remarkable. Homosexuals are widely persecuted throughout Muslim world. Moderate Muslims who refer to homosexuality as a "mental illness" seem comparatively charitable until they force their sons to seek "medical help." Former Guardian Middle East Editor (2000-2007) Brad Whitaker is author of Unspeakable Love. Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East. His 2006 lecture "Sickness or Sin? Attitudes Towards Homosexuality in the Middle East" tells of a psychiatrist's attempt to "cure" a gay patient through aversion therapy:

The treatment involved showing pictures of men and women, and giving him electric shocks if he looked at the men.
This strategy was ultimately unsuccessful.

Even fictional depictions of homosexual acts can prove death defying. The NYT reports Paramount Pictures was compelled to delay the release of their big budget Kite Runner six weeks to ensure the safety of the child actors. The father of one of the boys feared as far back January that at the very least "people will come and arrest us and put us in jail." The Times spells it out:
They were feared to be vulnerable to reprisal because of the film’s depiction of a culturally inflammatory rape scene.
In the film as in the book one of the boys is bullied and raped by another boy. Homophobia is so endemic to Muslim culture that these young actors' lives were endangered by something that never happened!

Back in Saudi Arabia consensual gay sex is on the book as a capital crime. International protests have led the Saudis to recently publicize a few convicted gay citizens sentenced to lengthy prison terms in lieu of execution. Color me skeptical. The Saudi legal system is completely self-reporting making it impossible to determine how widespread this "leniency" is. Furthermore a US State Department report released earlier this year notes that organizers of a "gay beauty pageant" arrested over two years ago have yet to be sentenced. Their present fate is unknown.

In our highlighted case, 5 married Sunni men raped a Shiite man. It wasn't considered gay sex. It wasn't considered rape. It wasn't considered at all. Due to the Saudi court's selective application of justice, two capital crimes were utterly ignored. By virtue of it being a hate crime, this type of gay "sex" is tacitly approved. The monarchy's directive is unambiguous: Sunnis are free to commit unlimited sectarian violence against minority Shiites without fear of facing the most serious punishments. For members of Saudi Arabia's majority Sunni sect, membership clearly has its privileges.

My conclusion
returns to my introduction and provides the title for this series. Saudi courts can't punish female victims too harshly. Gay sex is OK if as long as it's rape by married men also raping a woman.

I'm left struggling to comprehend how this society, which places righteousness and strict morality at the very foundation of their belief system, can consider itself just.

Si Fractus Fortus