Saudi gang-rape victim speaks

Somehow I missed it when it ran last week. The Saudi government claims she confessed this year to having been naked in the car with her male companion when they were attacked, but here’s what she told Human Rights Watch last December:

“I [was] 19 years old. I had a relationship with someone on the phone. We were both 16. I had never seen him before. I just knew his voice. He started to threaten me, and I got afraid. He threatened to tell my family about the relationship. Because of the threats and fear, I agreed to give him a photo of myself,” she recounted.

“A few months [later], I asked him for the photo back but he refused. I had gotten married to another man. He said, ‘I’ll give you the photo on the condition that you come out with me in my car.’ I told him we could meet at a souk [market[ near my neighborhood city plaza in Qatif.

“He started to drive me home. &We were 15 minutes from my house. I told him that I was afraid and that he should speed up. We were about to turn the corner to my house when they [another car] stopped right in front of our car. Two people got out of their car and stood on either side of our car. They man on my side had a knife. They tried to open our door. I told the individual with me not to open the door, but he did. He let them come in. I screamed.

Follow the link for the gory details. It sounds like a set-up arranged by her companion except that she doesn’t name him as one of the attackers. He gets hauled out of the car early on and then disappears from the story.

The Kingdom being the Kingdom, her family naturally sought revenge — on her.

“The criminals started talking about it [the rape] in my neighborhood. They thought my husband would divorce me. They wanted to ruin my reputation. Slowly my husband started to know what had happened. Four months later, we started a case. My family heard about the case. My brother hit me and tried to kill me.”

The Saudis say it was her husband who reported evidence of her affair. What that probably means is it was her husband who relayed this story to investigators and the incident with the photo got trumped up into being naked in the car to justify the “adultery” charge and the subsequent increase in her punishment.

Anyway, be sure to read down to the very end and see what the king’s options are here. The Saudis are making a big show of the independence of their judiciary at the moment but there’s a trace more nuance to it than they’d like us to believe. Exit question: If the judiciary’s independent of the monarchy, how is it that 1,500 “reformed” Al Qaeda jihadis just got paroled at a perfectly politically convenient moment, as the Saudis appear at the Annapolis summit?