A married housemaid, she was convicted of adultery, while the man, a bachelor, also a vulnerable Sri Lankan migrant worker, was given 100 lashes, as prescribed by Islamic law.
It is a measure of how violent Saudi Arabia’s capital punishment laws are that beheadings can at times seem compassionate.
Decapitation, after all, is nothing compared to lapidation. Beheading is quick; stoning, slow. It’s death by torture.
The housemaid’s panic must be unimaginable. What makes her punishment even more agonizing is that she all but surely did not receive a fair trial.
The legal cost to plead her case—10,000 riyal, or about $2,600—roughly amounts to the average yearly salary of a foreign worker in Saudi Arabia. It’s unlikely, therefore, that she had the money necessary to receive adequate legal guidance during her trial.
It’s also doubtful that she fully understood the Arabic language. Or Islamic law. Or the gravity of the sexual charges that were brought against her. It is not uncommon for underprivileged women from Asia and Africa to be victimized in Saudi Arabia’s religious legal
Perhaps in the next few days only world outrage might save the housemaid. Not even her family knows about her death sentence.
So far the Obama administration has shown no interest in her case. Nor has any assistance come from the United Nations, where, in a grim irony, Saudi Arabia currently chairs a panel of the the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The stoning of this lowly, nameless housemaid will stand as a symbol of our world’s moral failing. Given the indifference of the Obama administration, the silence of the United Nations, and the cruelty of the Saudi Arabian theocracy, only pressure from the media might now help.
So far the world’s response has been shameful. And as a morality tale, we should recognize that our indifference to this woman says as much about ourselves as it does the brutality of Saudi Arabia’s legal system.
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