FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2013
SAUDI ARABIAN COURT: FATHER RAPES, TORTURES FIVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO DEATH
ABSOLVED OF CHARGES
A court in Saudi Arabia has ruled a father who admittedly raped and
tortured his five-year-old daughter to death has only to pay blood money to
be absolved of any charges.
Lama Al Ghamdi was a five-year-old girl who was admitted into a hospital on
the December 25, 2011, with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull,
broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns. One of her
fingernails had been torn off. The child’s mother reported that the
hospital staff told her the child’s rectum had been torn open and the
abuser had attempted to burn it closed.
Randa Al Kaleeb, a social worker from the hospital, said in a phone
interview that Lama’s back was broken as well and that she had been raped
“everywhere”. Lama died of her injuries on the October 22, 2012.
Lama’s father, Fayhan Al Ghamdi, confessed to being the perpetrator and to
using cables and a cane to afflict the injuries. The father is an Islamist
preacher and a regular guest on Islamist television networks. According to
Dr. Suhaila Zain Alabdeen from the Saudi National Society of Human Rights,
the father had doubted five-year-old Lama’s virginity and went as far as to
have a medical professional check that her virginity was intact.
Her mother said in an interview on a regional talk show that she felt that
there was something wrong three months before Lama was admitted to the
hospital but that her ex-husband would only allow her short telephone
conversations. She begged him to give her the girl but he refused. By the
time she finally got to see her, Lama was in the Intensive Care Unit of the
According to local papers, the judge in the initial court session on
January 26, 2012, ruled the prosecution may only seek blood money and the
time the defendant has served in prison since Lama’s death suffices as
The ruling is based on a Sharia argument that fathers cannot be executed
for murdering their children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering
their wives. Fathers and husbands who murder their children or wives are
consistently sentenced to five to twelve years in prison at most. This
leniency is not extended to mothers and wives. In the history of Saudi
Arabia, there has only been one case in 2008 where a father and his second
wife were executed for torturing his daughter to death.
The courts’ leniency towards male abusers and murderers reflects the larger
problem of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia, wherein ALL women
are considered minors and are automatically assigned to the care and
judgment of their most immediate male relative. This 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.
Aziza al Yousef
amyousef at yahoo dot com
Manal al Sharif
Manal.msharif at gmail dot com