Rape in Saudi Arabia

Rape in Saudi Arabia is regulated by Islamic law, which is the basis for the legal system of Saudi Arabia. Under Islamic law,[1] the punishment which a court can impose on the rapist may range from flogging to execution. However, there is no penal code in Saudi Arabia, and there is no written law which specifically criminalizes rape or prescribes its punishment. In addition, there is no prohibition of marital rape.[2]

If the rape victim first entered the rapist's company in violation of purdah, she also stands to be punished by the law's current holdings.[3] In 2002, there were 0.3 reported rapes per 100,000 population.[4][5]


Human Rights Watch has investigated the situation, and their report concludes that a rape victim may be punished when they speak out against the crime. In one case, the victim's sentence was doubled for speaking out, and the court also harassed the victim's lawyer, going so far as to confiscate his professional licence.[6]

However, it has also been acknowledged that Shariah law, which punishes rapists,[7] serves as the basis of the country's legal system. However, the shariah does not include that women nor men be punished when they are a victim of rape.[8]

In 2009, the Saudi Gazette reported that a 23-year-old, unmarried woman was sentenced to one year in prison and 100 lashes for adultery after the judge refused to believe that she was raped. This woman had been gang-raped, became pregnant, and had tried (unsuccessfully) to abort the fetus. The flogging was postponed until after the delivery.[9]

The sentences for rape cases are also extremely unbalanced in Saudi Arabia. For example, in February 2013, a Saudi preacher raped, tortured, and murdered his 5-year-old daughter. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, 800 lashes, and a fine of one million riyals (US$270,000) to be paid to the girl's mother, his ex-wife.[10] Contrasted with this is the case of two Pakistani citizens who were beheaded by the state after being convicted of a rape.[11]

The Qatif rape case is a much-publicized gang rape case. The victims were a Shia teenage girl from Qatif (Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia) and her male companion, who were kidnapped and gang-raped by seven Saudi men in mid-2006. A Saudi Sharia court sentenced the perpetrators to varying sentences involving 80 to 1,000 lashes and imprisonment up to ten years for four of them. The court also sentenced the two victims to six months in prison and 90 lashes each for "being alone with a man who is not a relative" in a parked car. The appeals court doubled the victims' sentences in late 2007 as punishment for the heavy media coverage of the event in the international press regarding the treatment of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Saudi judicial practices. In December 2007, the Saudi King Abdullah issued an official pardon for the two victims, citing his ultimate authority to revise "discretionary" punishments in accordance with the public good, although the pardon did not reflect any lack of confidence in the Saudi justice system or in the fairness of the verdicts.[12]

It has been pointed out that the loose trial rules, as well as the physical evidence, are not presented or declined due to the 4 witnesses rule of Sharia Law. Lawyer Abdul-Aziz al-Gassem told that Sharia law allows the defendants to deny any signed confession, he further adds that "the lack of transparency in the investigation, the trial and the sentencing, plus the difficulties that journalists have to get access lead to deep a darkness where everything is possible."[13]

See also


  1. ^ "Islam | the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".
  2. ^ "Victims of Rape and Law: How the Laws of the Arab World Protect Rapists, Not Victims - JURIST - Commentary - Legal News & Commentary".
  3. ^ "Rape case calls Saudi legal system into question". Today News. Associated Press. 2013. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013.
  4. ^ James Sheptycki; Ali Wardak; James Hardie-Bick (2005). Transnational and Comparative Criminology. Routledge Cavendish. p. 95. ISBN 1-904385-05-2.
  5. ^ S., S. Harrendorf,M. Heiskanen (2010). United Nations Office on Drugs And Crime(UNODC) (PDF). HEUNI Publication. p. 39. ISBN 978-952-5333-787.
  6. ^ "Saudi Arabia: Rape Victim Punished for Speaking Out". HRW. 2007.
  7. ^ Wolf, Leslie F. (10 December 2016). "Leslie F. Wolf; Sexual Violation in Islamic Law: Substance, Evidence, and Procedure By HINA AZAM". Journal of Islamic Studies. doi:10.1093/jis/etw060.
  8. ^ "Saudilegal :: Islamic Law". Archived from the original on 2018-12-16. Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  9. ^ Shabrawi, Adnan. "Girl gets a year in jail, 100 lashes for adultery". The Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 13 January 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  10. ^ "Fayhan al-Ghamdi, Saudi Preacher, Sentenced To 8 Years, 800 Lashes For Raping, Killing Daughter". Huffington Post. 2013.
  11. ^ "Two Pakistanis beheaded in Saudi for rape". The Independent. 2010.
  12. ^ Zoepf, Katherine (18 December 2007). "Saudi King Pardons Rape Victim Sentenced to Be Lashed, Saudi Paper Reports". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Rape case calls Saudi legal system into question". Today. 2013.

Further reading

  • Pleming, Sue (2007-11-19). "U.S. offers mild criticism in Saudi rape case". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
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