Saudi Arabia is bristling at international criticism over the sentencing of a rape victim to prison and 200 lashes, insisting the West should stay out of its legal system. But the case could empower voices for change in the kingdom's Islamic courts.What did she do?
In the case of the Girl of Qatif, the woman — a member of the kingdom's Shiite minority — was attacked in 2006 when she met a high school friend in his car to retrieve a picture of herself from him, since she had recently married. Two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area where five others waited, and then the woman — 19 at the time — and her companion were both raped, she has said.
In October last year, she was sentenced to prison and 90 lashes for being alone with a man not related to her — a violation of the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes. The seven rapists were also convicted.
When her lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, appealed the sentence and made public comments about it, he was removed from the case, his license suspended, and the court increased the woman's penalty to six months in prison and 200 lashes.