Is it strange to believe that a human rights organization would prioritize human rights? In the case of the five year old Lama who was tortured to death by her father, the NSHR seem to want to downplay both the crime and the judicial rulings. On the one hand, we have Itimad Al Sonaidi, an NSHR legal investigator, stating to the newspapers that there is no truth to the news reports that blood money had been offered. And on the other hand we have Khalid Al Fakhri, NSHR general director, denying that Lama had been sexually assaulted. Even Suhaila Zain Alabdeen, before strongly speaking out on the case and giving details was careful to have it made clear that she was on the news program as an activist and not as a member of the NSHR.
First, when it comes to whether or not Fayhan Al Ghamdi had raped his daughter, the social worker assigned to the case, Randa Al Kaleeb stated so in a phone interview with an investigative program host, Ali Al Olayani. And we have Dr. Mohammed Mahdi, the medical examiner in Lama’s case, from the Forensic Medicine Department in Riyadh, who stated to Asharq Aawsat:
The offender committed all types of physical abuse on the victim as well as her exposure to sexual assault as a result of swelling in the region of the genitals and laceration in the anal area. There is ambiguity and secrets and the narrative is incomplete. In domestic abuse cases, injuries are usually afflicted over several months and not all in one bout. Also there is disparity in the type of injuries, from burns to those afflicted with sharp tools, along with the presence of strikes that take distinctive forms. All of these specifications have been identified on Lama’s body through the bruises and effects of burns and blows and led to them being afflicted with a thick electrical cable and a cane. These tools have been seized from the offenders home at the request of the Forensic Medicine Department as evidence. It’s Lama’s right that we reveal the truth of what happened to her.
Second, when blood money is offered and accepted then all maximum penalties are off the table. Over and over again, the courts have let fathers and husbands literally get away with murder by paying blood money and at most serving five to twelve years. I’ve given examples in my previous post, but I’ll give you another example that’s as recent as January 6th 2013. Wissam was a 13 year old to an Egyptian mother and a Saudi father. His mother came to Saudi as a 16 year old bride twenty years ago. Five years ago her husband divorced her and the torment began. It ended with the father chasing Wissam from the street to the door and stabbing him over and over again. Wissam died minutes later in his mother’s arms at the entrance of his home. The final ruling on January 6th was that blood money be paid and a five year sentence. After the judge ruled, Wissam’s sister turned to her mother and asked “Mama when father comes out of prison, will he kill us like he killed Wissam?”
Dr. Amal Al Kafrawi psychiatric and addiction specialist told Alwatan that protection from domestic violence committees under the Ministry of Health are unavailable and non-existent, despite the existence of them in name within the ministry. She added that the impact of domestic violence is mostly suffered by the children. She stated that we find that the weak individual is assaulted in every way without having the chance to defend himself or his human rights, which must be guaranteed by his community, so children grow up in an atmosphere of constant persecution and humiliation that destroy their innocence.
The only case in Saudi history when a father/murder was made to pay is that of Ghusoon, an eight year old girl who was chained and tortured over a year by her father and stepmother while her mother ran from one official to the next asking for help. Ghussoon was starved, had kerosene poured over her, burned and even hit with a car in her father’s yard. All of this because the father doubted his paternity. Alas Ghusoon died before anyone would listen to her mother. In only that case was it considered murder and the father executed. You would think that Ghusoon’s case would create a precedent, right? Wrong. Because Saudi’s (reminiscently medieval) justice system is resistant to codification. Every judge can rule in whatever way he sees fit, as long as he can find a religious text to base his ruling on. That means you can have two cases of murder, divorce or whatever with the exact same specifications and in the courtroom of the same judge and still get two different rulings depending on who the defendants are, what they wore, their piety…etc.
I can only guess what the motive is behind NSHR statements and actions. The only thing that’s apparent is that they are downplaying the case.