Monday, February 18, 2013

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia

(The "meanwhile, in x" posts are about negative news concerning women's lives in various places. )

Content Warning:  Violence, Sexual Violence

These news explain why laws which treat men and women differently can create horrible outcomes:

  • Religious scholar "sentenced to pay blood money to mother after serving short jail term" for daughter's death.
  • A Saudi man who raped his five-year-old daughter and tortured her to death has been sentenced to pay "blood money" to the mother after having served a short jail term, according to activists.
  • The man, said to be a religious scholar who is also a regular guest on Islamic television networks, confessed to having used cables and a cane to inflict the injuries, activists from the group Women to Drive said in a statement on Saturday.
  • Lamia was admitted to hospital on December 25, 2011, with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns, the activists said.
  • They said the father had doubted his daughter Lama's virginity and had her checked up by a medic.
The torture and killing could happen anywhere.  But in this case two aspects of the way the shariah law is applied in Saudi Arabia makes things much worse:

 First, the couple was divorced and the father had automatic control of the child.  The mother asked him for custody but he refused, and that was that.

 Second, the way the Saudi clerics interpret shariah, a father killing his child cannot be considered an ordinary murderer:

As for fathers, the matter is different; a father cannot be executed for killing his child. This is because a father is the considered the origin of his child and the child is the branch; and the branch cannot be used to eliminate the origin.
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No father should be killed (executed) for killing his son.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Having said this, it should be also pointed out that Imam Malik has a different opinion: if a father kills his son definitely on purpose without any doubt, he may be executed.
Allah Almighty knows best.

I'm not an expert and therefore don't know why the alternative is a few months in prison and the payment of blood money (half of the amount that would be given in the case of the killing of a son), but the first linked article states that the same principle applies to husbands killing their wives, even though he cannot be the origin of her.

Those rulings create bad incentives.  Why not just kill a troublesome wife  rather than divorce her?  They also give a green light to extreme forms of pedophile violence as long as the perpetrator only attacks his own children.

Activists in Saudi Arabia have raised objections to the ruling.  I was unable to find English-language news stories about general reactions and what most people thought about the ruling.