A woman penalized with 70 lashes on insulting a Saudi man on WhatsAapp
A 32 year old woman in Saudi Arabia has been punished with 70 lashes and fine amount of 20,000 Saudi Riyal (USD 5,332) for committing a crime of insulting a man on popular instant messaging app – WhatsApp. According to Daily Mail, the case was filed by the angry Saudi man at Al Qatif criminal court.
As per the source at the court, on finding the woman guilty of staining the reputation of the plaintiff on WhatsApp, the court announced the verdict, as reported by Okaz local daily newspaper. The complaint was filed after an argument between the two; however, the defendant (whose nationality is not known) accepted on insulting the man through the mobile chat program, as per Gulf News but reportedly refused the court ruling. The reason for the dispute or the upsetting message was not clear, although seemingly the woman may have sent a picture of herself driving to the man as indicated by the discussion on local social media networks. (Women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving.)
Article Three of the Saudi Anti – Cyber Crime Law states that anybody “using various informative technological devices defames or inflicts damage upon others” will be subject to imprisonment for a period up to one year (not more than that) and a fine amount not beyond SR500, 000 or to one of the punishments.
On the same day of ruling, another judge in Saudi Arabia granted permission to a man to divorce his wife after he disliked her status update, which was also posted on WhatsApp. The offending status update was, “I pray to be patient enough to put up with you,” followed by his initials, reported by Al Arabiya. Consequently, the husband on seeing the status asked one of his relatives to check if her wife’s was addressing him.
The husband said to the court, “My relative confirmed this and I was so embarrassed that my friends’ wives and relatives could see that I was being portrayed in such a light. I don’t even know what she meant by it.” Apparently, the message proved to be the last straw to the husband and an end to their journey, according to the Saudi Gazette. As per statements of the husband in the court, the pair had a difficult time dealing with their relationship, and looking at her wife’s personal updates targeting him on social media networks he had decided to divorce her before she unfolds their entire life story.
Similar to the earlier case, 20 lashes were given to two women from Jeddah and jailed for 10 days after insulting each other on WhatsApp. The pair – reportedly cousins were asked by judge to solve their dispute out of court but neither of them accepted to apologize. 2014 witnessed another serious case, where a British woman named RoyaSaberinejadNobakht, after criticizing the government on Facebook was jailed for 20years in Iran. Her family and friends has launched a plea to free her amidst claims of her being tortured in the prison.
In the recent years the women in Saudi Arabia are seen popularly using social media to highlight the restrictive lifestyle imposed on them. One such unofficial campaign supporting the concept is #Saudiwomendriving.