How Our “Friends” Support Law and Order


The Saudi judiciary is defending its punishment of a 19-year-old rape victim–that’s right, a victim–because she was in a car with a man not related to her when the crime occurred. The woman’s original punishment was 90 lashes, but she has since committed another crime: She spoke with the news media. Now, her sentence is six months in prison and 200 lashes.

Islamic law forbids a woman to associate with males who are not part of her family. As for speaking with reporters, the official Saudi press agency explains that “whoever has an objection on verdicts issued, the system allows an appeal without resorting to the media.” Add 110 lashes and six months in what I feel certain is not a “rehab” prison.

In the meantime, the court also doubled the sentences of the seven men who committed the rape.

It is horrific enough that rape victims are punished in Saudi Arabia, but there are other problems with the system that are just as disturbing. Individuals on trial are often not permitted to have defense attorneys present, and there are no sentencing guidelines other than the judges’ discretion.

Women in Saudi Arabia have no freedom of movement and may not even drive a car. First Lady Laura Bush recently wore an abaya in Saudi Arabia and declared–to the astonishment of millions–that the garb was “traditional” and “a religious choice,” without addressing the social roots of how that “choice” came to be. It is estimated that the Saudis have invested over $750 billion in the U.S., and–as we know–at least several thousand directly into the hands of George W. Bush. There has never been much enthusiasm among Western nations to support women’s rights in their own countries, much less in very oppressive countries. Now the relationship between the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia–not to mention the relationship between the Bush administration and U.S. women’s rights goals–makes it impossible to do anything but look the other way when a young gang-rape victim is tortured by her own government.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate