A 75-year-old Syrian woman was sentenced to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from Saudi Arabia, for having two unrelated men in her house.
The men were reportedly taking bread to the widow Khamisa Sawadi, who was married to a Saudi, and one of them was her late husband's nephew. The two men were also charged with ‘mingling’ with an unrelated woman and sentenced to prison and lashes, sparking criticism for the country's judiciary and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Saudi Arabia's bloggers speak up.
Saudi Jeans remarks:
After the recent blunders of our very dysfunctional justice system, you would think judges will become more careful when they handle some cases. Not so much, unfortunately.
The blogger continues:
So Saudi Arabia takes another slap in the face. It is also a slap in the face for the new minister of justice, who obviously needs to fight really hard in order to end the embarrassments caused by our courts and implement the much publicized changes in the justice system.
Saudi Jeans‘ post has attracted about 40 comments at the time of writing this post.
A female Saudi blogger Sabria Jawhar also tackles Sawadi's case and links it recent worldwide celebrations of the International Day of Women saying:
I don’t think that Khamisa Sawadi celebrated International Women’s Day last Sunday. […] International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past and the present.
While the event is a national holiday in some countries, such as China and Russia, it goes largely unnoticed by women n Saudi Arabia. The case of Khamisa Sawadi is evidence that the social achievements of Saudi women remain a distant dream.
While Jawhar acknowledges that Saudi women have taken a few steps forward, their reality remains grim. She explains:
Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the advancement of women in key government positions. The appointments of Noral Al-Faiz as deputy minister for Girls’ Education and Dr. Fatimah Abdullah Al-Saleem as cultural attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Canada by the Ministry of Higher Education, inspires Saudi women. Saudi women view Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem as role models, recognizing that they, too, can achieve success on their own terms.
Yet the social realities are that Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem are the exceptions, not the rule, of what Saudi women face in the future. For every Al-Faiz and Al-Saleem there are 100 Khamisa Sawadis. For every female Saudi graduate student studying abroad, there are 100 other Saudi women denied their right to divorce abusive husbands or to gain custody of their children.
Crossroads Arabia says this case drives home the need to codify the Saudi law, which are now based on Islamic Sharia (religious law) and the discretion and interpretation of individual judges. John Burgess adds:
The conviction stands as another example of why Saudi law must be codified.
I do not insist that Saudi law be like American or any other nation’s laws. I do think, though, that it should be rational and clear enough that anyone has a clear idea if he or she is breaking a law. Leaving judgments to the independent wisdom of individual judges does not assure that and results in messes like this.
And finally American Sand gets in my eyes cannot see the logic in the sentences. She writes:
Mmm. Let's recap. The two young men were actually being charitable to an elderly woman. You might even say they were bringing her her daily bread. They were sentenced to lashes and jail.
The elderly woman was reaching out to someone she considered a family member, someone she had – in her old age – come to depend upon. She was sentenced to lashes and jail.
And the men charged with promoting virtue…well those guys hid in the bushes, lied about their identities and then had the audacity to arrest an elderly woman in need of charity, and the young men who came to her need.