(CNN) – A court in Saudi Arabia increased the punishment for a gang-rape victim after her lawyer won an appeal of the sentence for the rapists, the lawyer told CNN.
The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs. The seven rapists, who abducted the pair and raped both, received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison.
The victim’s attorney, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, contested the rapists’ sentence, contending there is a fatwa, or edict under Islamic law, that considers such crimes Hiraba (sinful violent crime) and the punishment should be death.
“After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants,” al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. “However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim’s sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes.”
The judges more than doubled the punishment for the victim because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media,” according to a source quoted by Arab News, an English-language Middle Eastern daily newspaper.
Judge Saad al-Muhanna from the Qatif General Court also barred al-Lahim from defending his client and revoked his law license, al-Lahim said. The attorney has been ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Justice next month.
Al-Lahim said he is appealing the decision to bar him from representing the victim and has a meeting with Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh on Monday.
“Currently she doesn’t have a lawyer, and I feel they’re doing this to isolate her and deprive her from her basic rights,” al-Lahim said. “We will not accept this judgment and I’ll do my best to continue representing her because justice needs to take place.”
Al-Lahim said he wanted the Justice Ministry to take “a very clear standing” on the case, saying the decision is “judicial mutiny against reform that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz started and against Saudi women who are being victimized because of such decisions.”
Women are subject to numerous restrictions in Saudi Arabia, including a strict dress code, a prohibition against driving and the need for a man’s permission to travel or have surgery. Women are also not allowed to testify in court unless it is about a private matter that was not observed by a man, and they are not allowed to vote.
The Saudi government recently has taken some steps toward bettering the situation of women in the kingdom, including the establishment earlier this year of special courts to handle domestic abuse cases, adoption of a new labor law that addresses working women’s rights, and creation of a human rights commission.
CNN was unable to reach government officials for comment.
This is just absurd! This is the first time I heard a victim is punished for being raped!!! And when the rapists sentence is increased, they double the sentence of the victim as well! I don’t know, what the world is becoming to …