Saturday, 14 May 2011

Guardian: Saudi Arabia flogs orphan girls

The Guardian today has a gruesome story of apparent human rights violation:

Six girls aged between 12 and 18 receive 10 lashes each for attacking head of orphanage

Six orphan girls aged between 12 and 18 have been flogged in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of attacking the head of their orphanage, an official has said. The girls received 10 lashes each at a women's prison in Medina, Islam's second holiest city.

"The order against the six orphans is a legitimate court order," Mohammed al-Awadh, the public relations manager at the ministry of social affairs, told Reuters. "The ministry does not have the right to interfere in a court order."

He gave no details of the ruling, but the Arabic language Okaz newspaper said the girls had been convicted of "acts of mischief" and attacking the director of the orphanage. The girls defended their actions, saying they were harassed by the director, Okaz reported.

International human rights groups have criticised the Saudi justice system for applying corporal punishment for petty crimes, as well as limb amputations for thieves and beheadings for murderers under its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Saudi officials say the practice is widely approved by Saudi society and is a deterrent to crime.

In January 2010, a teenage girl was sentenced to 90 lashes and two months in prison for hitting her school principal on the head with a cup when she took away her mobile phone.

Awadh said the ministry would continue to care for the girls after the floggings were carried out. "What it will do is rehabilitate and take care of the girls' social wellbeing, which is part of its duties and responsibilities," he added.

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