As an atheist and a secular humanist, it seems to me that whenever religion is thrown into the cauldron of a judiciary system in a bid to form a religious court, more often than not, the askew judgments and gross abuse of human rights become centerfold: From gross misogyny to outright ridiculous punishments of victims & criminals alike, religious laws belong to a somewhat archaic age, when it was customary for thieves to have their hands chopped off, or mandatory stoning for convicted adulterers.
For various obvious reasons, most democratic, modern nations do not ascribe such ridiculous concepts of law into their statutes, and while some countries still practice the ancient, non-reversible death penalty in their books, it is safe to say that as civilized countries go, most countries have removed a significant number of barbaric punishments from the law books.
There are, however, some religiously-charged countries, particularly in the Islamic mold, that still dish out unacceptable punishments for certain crimes, and it really galls me to say that most of these supposed "crimes" are merely deliberate acts of lynching meant to subjugate one particular class of human beings: Women.
Saudi Gang-Rape Victim is Jailed
By Frances Harrison
An appeal court in Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of lashes and added a jail sentence as punishment for a woman who was gang-raped.
The victim was initially punished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack.
When she appealed, the judges said she had been attempting to use the media to influence them.The attackers' sentences - originally of up to five years - were doubled.
According to the Arab News newspaper, the 19-year-old woman, who is from Saudi Arabia's Shia minority, was gang-raped 14 times in an attack in the eastern province a year-and-a-half ago. Seven men from the majority Sunni community were found guilty of the rape and sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years. But the victim was also punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man. On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.
Subjugating Women and Stoking the Male Ego
For all intents and purposes, the Syariah (Muslim Law) has, within its tenets, rules that subjugates women: In Saudi Arabia, women can't drive cars, step out of their homes without the mandatory burkas (The ugly veils that make them resemble out-of-place Martians), & yes, generally speaking, women are conspicuously absent in a large proportion of a male-dominated social setting.
In short, Muslim women living under the shadow of the law live a shady, oppressed kind of existence, their survival deemed as nothing more than tools for raising children, looking after the household and yes, perpetual sex slaves for males destined for 72 virgins in Paradise.
The idea that a rape victim should be able to seek legal recourse without undue fear of reprisal is strangely absent in Islamic courts: As for the case in question, the farce just keeps snow-balling into gross miscarriage of justice: For the mere act of getting in a car with a male driver, she gets 200 lashes, up from the earlier sentence of 90 lashes.
A Muslim apologist can argue that the male rapists didn't go scot free: But how does one justify one deserving punishment for a misguided (& misogynistic one at that) one?
This is another classic example why religion should never be allowed to meddle in court matters, or any other issue for the matter. Wherever religion trots on secular ground, the end result is often a disaster in the making.
"When I began to study the Koran, the holy book of Islam, I found many unreasonable ideas. The women in the Koran were treated as slaves. They are nothing but sexual objects. Naturally I set aside the Koran and looked around me. I found religion equally oppressive in real life. And I realized that religious oppression and injustices are only increasing, especially in Muslim countries. The religious terrorists are everywhere. But if I criticized Muslim fundamentalists and mullahs in particular, it is because I saw them from close quarters. They took advantage of people's ignorance and oppressed them. They considered women as chattel slaves and treated them no better than the slaves of the ancient world."
-Banglasdeshi Writer, Taslima Nasrin