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Saudi Arabia: Islamic cleric rapes, tortures, kills daughter, pays fine

Lama al-Ghamdi
Lama al-GhamdiTwitter.com

In Saudi Arabia an Islamic cleric who admits to raping, torturing and killing his daughter received a fine but no jail time for his heinous crime. Saudi media reports that the father paid 200,000 riyals ($50,000 US) in “blood money” for his crime, but will not be required to serve any time in prison.

In response to the heinous crime, and lack of justice for five-year old victim Lama al-Ghamdi, the women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif and others issued a press release on Feb 2, and launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtags #AnaLama (Arabic for "I am Lama") and #IamLama, demanding legislation criminalizing violence against women and children.

Fayhan al-Ghamdi, the victims father and a popular Islamic preacher who has made numerous television appearances promoting Islam, confessed to the heinous crime. Ghamdi told Saudi officials he used cables and a cane on his five-year-old daughter, leaving her with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns. In addition, one of Lama’s fingernails had been torn off. Hospital staff reports the child’s rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed.

Reports indicate the father had doubted his five-year old daughter's virginity.

Lama al-Ghamdi died last October. The amount her father was fined for the brutal rape, torture and murder, would have been doubled if Lama had been male. In Saudi Arabia, Islamic law is interpreted to be that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering their wives.

Human rights activists point out that judicial leniency towards male abusers and murderers reflects the highly problematic nature of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia. Currently all women in Saudi Arabia are considered minors, and all are automatically assigned to the care and judgment of their most immediate male relative. This system of male guardianship gives the male relatives the power to sell girls legally into child marriages and to ban adult women from work, travel and obtaining medical operations.

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