The Qatif Girl

Rape VictimMy jaw dropped and as my eyes grew wider. I could not get enough of the headline I had just read. As I scanned and tried to absorb what the headline was trying to convey, I felt motley of emotions emerge from within me. Is this, what man took pride in? He honored his presence on earth by stating that he had the prudence of imparting fair and unbiased justice to one and all, leaving him the undeniable leader of this world. But as I read on, there was a completely different story to be told.’ RAPED GIRL SENTENCED TO 200 LASHES’. No matter how many times I read it, it didn’t seem to make sense. A 19 year old girl from Qatif (hence the name) was repeatedly raped by seven men, eighteen months ago in an eastern

province of Saudi Arabia. When this case was taken to court, the seven men were obviously sentenced to ‘time’ in prison. But what left me disgusted, startled and raged was the fact that the girl too was sentenced to a 100 lashes. Her crime was to be present with those men. In

Saudi Arabia, for a woman to be present with a man who is neither her husband nor relative, is a crime. When it had been proven in court that she had been abducted before the crime was committed, the girl’s lawyer, Abdulrahman al-Lahem challenged and criticized the decision in court, only to discover that her sentence would be doubled and his license to practice law would be suspended and held in court for condemning the courts ‘just’ decision. The case has got all the media hype it could have asked for. But what really worries me is the future of this girl, who had the ill fate of being raped by seven men and sentenced to a 200 lashes. Being born into such a primitive society, one can only imagine all the hardships she will have to endure. It disgusts me to see that we have once again proven to ourselves that our justice system is undoubtedly sexist and corrupt.Man has always glorified his existence, the leader of the food chain, the inventor, the discoverer. He bore the capability to communicate. So he was above them all, all the other creatures. The fair and wise one. But when such incidents of primitive justice surface, it definitely questions one’s faith, which has so blindly been placed in the goodwill of mankind. For no books on jurisprudence or on extensive law hold any good when such cruelty is being forced upon an innocent girl, guilty of being raped. Guilty for innocence. Ironic!

Amanjit Singh Khanna