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SAUDI ARABIA: Forget detention -- misbehaving schoolgirl sentenced to 90 lashes

January 24, 2010 | 10:23 am


Schoolchildren in Saudi Arabia might want to put those rubberbands back in their knapsacks, the spitballs back in their mouths and begin meekly raising their hands before asking questions following a harsh ruling against a 13-year-old who had a spat with her teacher.

According to the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, as cited by the Daily Mail of London, the adolescent got into a tussle with her teacher after she was caught with a cellphone camera, apparently forbidden in Saudi girls' schools.

Instead of giving her a week of detention or making her write, "I won't bring my cellphone camera to school" on the chalkboard a hundred times, the kid was sentenced to 90 lashes with a cane.

Today's lesson: Be polite to your schoolteacher in Saudi Arabia.

Very polite.

The ruling has outraged Saudi Arabia's own state-sanctioned human rights organization  "The court should have looked for an alternative sentence," Saleh Al-Khaslan, a spokesman for the rights group, told CNN. 

Human rights groups have roundly condemned the use of such punishments. Saudi Arabia's Islamic Sharia law imposes mandatory flogging sentences for so-called moral offenses. According to Al-Watan, a judge in the city of Jubail also sentenced the young woman to two months imprisonment after her flogging.

In another ongoing case that has sparked international outrage, a Philippine guest worker in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 100 lashes after she was allegedly raped and impregnated by a coworker. 

The woman, a 35-year-old cleaner, was barred from leaving Saudi Arabia after a medical examination determined she was pregnant. 

The woman insisted to authorities that a Bangladeshi coworker had raped her, and that she failed to report the incident for fear she'd be accused of extramarital sex, a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. 

New York-based Human Rights Watch today issued a damning chapter on Saudi Arabia in a lengthy global report on conditions for minorities, prisoners and political dissidents in nations around the world. 

"Authorities continue to systematically suppress, or fail to protect, the rights of 14 million Saudi women and girls, eight million foreign workers, and some two million Shiites," the report says. "Thousands of people have received unfair trials or were subject to arbitrary detention. Curbs on freedom of association, expression, and movement, as well as a pervasive lack of official accountability, remain serious concerns."

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Image said to show authorities flogging a person in Saudi Arabia. Photo credit: Daily Mail website