Feb 05 2013

Daily Beast: Will a Child Rapist Walk Free in Saudi Arabia? Story of Lama Al-Ghamdi

The self-proclaimed Saudi cleric Fayan Al-Ghamdi has been accused of raping and torturing his own 5-year-old daughter, Lama Al-Ghamdi, to death. Dr. Mohammed Mehdi, the medical examiner in Lama’s case reported to Asharq Al-Awsat that the “offender committed all sorts of physical abuse on the victim” and that the 5-year-old girl suffered from clear evidence of sexual abuse and rape, including “swelling in the region of the genitals and laceration in her anal area.”

The father confessed to the abuse, mentioning to the judge that he believed that Lama was behaving inappropriately. Al-Ghamdi had even hired a medical professional to examine and confirm that his child’s virginity was intact.

Lama’s mother is an Egyptian national who had been living in Saudi Arabia for over 25 years. Due to Saudi laws heavily favoring the father in cases of child guardianship, she lost custody of her daughter when Al-Ghamdi divorced her. Lama’s mother said in an interview that she had begged Al-Ghamdi to allow her to see her daughter but he strongly refused; allowing only very brief telephone conversations between the mother and her daughter.

The anger did not end with Lama’s death, as a story circulated in the last week stating that Al-Ghamdi’s judge allowed him to walk free upon a small payment of blood money to the mother. Many were outraged over the judge’s alleged decision to let Al-Ghamdi off so easily, noting that Lama’s case highlighted once again an absolute failure of the Saudi system to protect women and children. Human Rights Watch released a report in the same week of Al-Ghamdi’s hearing criticizing the Saudi system for being “lax” on punishments for domestic abusers. Saudi writer Iman Al Nafjan blogged, “Over and over again, the courts have let fathers and husbands literally get away with murder.”

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