Rape in Saudi Arabia

Rape in Saudi Arabia has been researched by various observers and entities. In 2002, sexual offenses stood at 0.3 rapes per 100,000 population.[1][2] Under Sharia law, which serves as the basis for the legal system of Saudi Arabia,[3] a law generally enforced by the Islamic states (Islamic Law), punishment imposed by the court 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. 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.[4] In addition, there is no prohibition against marital rape or statutory rape.


Human Rights Watch has investigated the situation, and their report concludes that the rape victim is punished when they speak out against the crime. In one case, the victim's sentence was doubled for speaking out; the court also harassed the victim's lawyer, going so far as to confiscate his professional license.[5]

However, it has also been acknowledged that Shariah law, which punishes rapists,[6] 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.[7]

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. This woman had been gang-raped, became pregnant, and had tried (unsuccessfully) to abort the fetus. The flogging was postponed until after the delivery.[8]

The sentences for rape cases are also extremely unbalanced in Saudi Arabia. In one example from 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 ($270,000 USD) to be paid to the girl's mother, his ex-wife.[9] Contrasted with this is the case of two Pakistani citizens who were beheaded by the state after being convicted of a rape.[10]

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.[11]

Absence of evidence

It has been pointed that the loose trial rules, as well as the physical evidences, are not presented or declined due to lack of witnesses.[12]

See also


  1. James Sheptycki; Ali Wardak; James Hardie-Bick (2005). Transnational and Comparative Criminology. Routledge Cavendish. p. 95. ISBN 1-904385-05-2.
  2. S. Malby, S. Harrendorf,M. Heiskanen (2010). United Nations Office on Drugs And Crime(UNODC) (PDF). HEUNI Publication. p. 39. ISBN 978-952-5333-78-7.
  3. https://www.saudiembassy.net/islam
  4. "Rape case calls Saudi legal system into question". Today News. Associated Press. 2013. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013.
  5. "Saudi Arabia: Rape Victim Punished for Speaking Out". HRW. 2007.
  6. 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: etw060. doi:10.1093/jis/etw060.
  7. http://www.saudilegal.com/saudilaw/01_law.html
  8. 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.
  9. "Fayhan al-Ghamdi, Saudi Preacher, Sentenced To 8 Years, 800 Lashes For Raping, Killing Daughter". Huffington Post. 2013.
  10. "Two Pakistanis beheaded in Saudi for rape". The Independent. 2010.
  11. "Saudi King Pardons Rape Victim Sentenced to Be Lashed, Saudi Paper Reports".
  12. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15836746/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/rape-case-calls-saudi-legal-system-question/

Further reading

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