Friday, November 27, 2015

Married woman to be stoned to death for adultery in Saudi Arabia - while her single male partner to receive 100 lashes

A woman faces the sentence of being stoned to death after being convicted of adultery in Saudi Arabia - while the man she was caught with faces 100 lashes. The married 45-year old woman, originally from Sri Lanka, was working as a maid in Saudi Arabia at the time. Her partner, also a Sri Lankan migrant workers, was given the lesser punishment on account of being single. The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment has "hired lawyers and appealed against the case", according to Upul Deshapriya, a spokesman for the Bureau. "Also, from the foreign ministry side, they are in negotiations with the Saudi government on a diplomatic level." Officials from the Saudi Embassy in Colombo did not respond to requests on whether the clemency plea would be considered.

Saudi Arabia, ironically a member in the advisory committee of the UN Human Rights Council, has long been criticized by human rights groups all around the world for the frequent use of the death penalty for crimes such as adultery and drug smuggling. In just the past year, Saudi Arabia has executed over 150 people - a 20 year high. According to Amnesty International, a human rights organization, "the majority of the executions that take place are public beheading[s]." In fact, Hillel Neuer, executive director at UN watch, called Saudi Arabia's position in the UNHRC as "scandalous [because] it has beheaded more people this year than ISIS..." The country follows a form of Sharia Law, a legal framework within which both public and some private aspects of life are regulated in the name of Islam. Sharia deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues. Stoning is a form of execution where a group throws stones at a person buried waist or chest deep in the ground until they are dead.

This news follows reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to execute more than 50 people, found guilty of terrorism, in a single day. Amnesty International immediately condemned the move, saying that the Saudis are "using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores."

Saudi Arabia and the United States have been close diplomatic allies for decades. Notably, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have strong and close relations with senior members of the Saudi Royal Family, the undisputed head of government in the Middle-Eastern country. The simplest explanation for this unlikely relationship between two vastly different nations, is of course, oil. Saudi Arabia is the largest and most important producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a bloc that controls around 40 percent of the world's oil. According to, "despite [Saudi Arabia's] repulsive human rights record, unproductive role in regional security, and American advances in shale oil production, the United States needs Saudi Arabia..."

What do you think of this whole controversy? How does it make you feel? Should the US condemn these outrageous actions and risk the anger of Saudi Arabia or are strong diplomatic relations with the Middle-Eastern Oil giant more important as a whole for our nation? 



Daniel Jun said...

Okay. Saudi Arabia gets a lot of hate, and it's not surprising why. It's patriarchal, almost comically sexist, and it's main religion is Islam (Americans have been conditioned to connote Islam with terrorism. I am not saying that I believe in the the idea itself, I'm just stating a very ugly reality).
In almost any other case, I'd say that marriage is a sacred bond between two parties, one that creates not just a binding in word and rings of metal, but a spiritual and communal commingling of spirits. This isn't the case here. Because in Saudi Arabia, marriage often isn't about love, but contracts and social leverage. Not to mention the mass amounts of sexism in Saudi Arabian marriage and divorce law. I mean, the man can divorce the woman just by saying "I divorce you" three times, while the wife has to go to court. So Saudi Arabian marriage guidelines cannot be judged on the same frequency as American marriage customs. This is a shame, and a humanitarian's nightmare, and I believe stoning a woman to death for adultery is an overreaction.
But what can America do, without fearing for its essential supply of petroleum? While I find it is horrific that a woman will be stoned to death for sleeping with a man besides her husband, I see no way for the US government to actually create a change without undue risk.


Adjon Tahiraj said...

I believe that these actions should of course be condemned by the United States at the least, but looking at the current leadership of the United States and its past actions, or rather lack of, I don't think the US, as a whole, will condemn or act in any sort of way that puts the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia in danger. Oil is very important to the United states, and looking at this source:, in 2011 the United States consumed almost 20,000,000 barrels of oil per day. which is more than 10,000,000 barrels ahead of china which was in second place with 9,000,000. This shows how important oil is to the US, and its understandable why the US would not want to do anything to compromise one of its largest oil suppliers.

Another thing I want you all to consider is why the United States will not start drilling more oil in our own country. According to a source, the United States has the "world’s largest untapped oil reserve." ( And this is an estimate of 2.3 trillion barrels. I believe that starting to drill more oil in the united states is something that could help the state of our economy. Not only would we not have to pay other countries for oil, saving billions of dollars, but it would create countless jobs in the Unites States and help the economy.

And going back to the first few questions you asked. Its sickening to me that this type of thing is still happening in the world in the 21 Century. A lot of people in the US don't really know the current state of politics and ideology of other countries like Saudi Arabia out in the world, therefore this sort of thing happening does not get as much outrage and attention as it should. No one deserves to be buried head level in the ground, and be killed by people throwing stones at them. It is simply inhumane.

It amazes me how far our leaders are willing to push the boundaries. It is true we do need oil, but where do we draw the line?

Alex Binsacca said...

Honestly I am not surprised by this type of result in regards to this type of case in Saudi Arabia. As Daniel had stated before, the laws in this country are very sexist and male predominant. I (agreeing with most other people) think that the United States should definitely condemn this type of punishment. However, one must ask what can the United States (and for that matter people around the world) do? Reason why I ask this, is because you truly cannot challenge this law without challenging all of Islamic beliefs. As stated in the article they are following the Sharia Law, which is rooted from the religion itself. Also I personally would also like to see if this is a common death around other countries that follow this type of code. I would also like to know what other countries are doing in regards to these type of situation.

While I may sympathize a little for the United States for being challenged about not doing anything, I still don't like their decision about doing nothing. I do understand that the normal US citizen demand for oil is very high, however I still do not think that is valid excuse for America or any other country to stay silent. Answering Adjon's question, I think the reason why we don't attempt to drill for oil is because of all the environmental regulations we have. Plus, the incidents like the ones from a very years ago with the golf of Mexico being polluted with oil.

Elliot Quan said...

Sure, the US "should" condemn them, but it's not atrocious enough apparently to disrupt the flow of oil. Unfortunately, we have no better alternatives than good ol' petroleum, and it doesn't seem like anyone wants to change the status quo right now. It is interesting to note that Saudi Arabia is only the 2nd highest oil exporter to the US (behind Canada - It is interesting, as brought up by Adjon, that the US has not really expanded its own oil production - I've tried to search why, but I couldn't find any major reasons not to besides environmental fracking concerns until I found that oil production actually has been increasing as of late ( Perhaps things will change in a decade, but I don't think our dependence on oil will be one of them.

Following up on Alex's point, while I am not knowledgeable about Islam or Sharia law, perhaps the fault is not with Islam itself but its interpretation by Saudi Arabia (and other like-minded nations and entities). I personally don't think there's any real valid defense for their style of execution nowadays.

kristen said...

I don't believe this is an America vs Saudi Arabia issue. The human rights violations in general should be addressed in the United Nations, which the US is part of. The US as a country is a powerful country, the richest and most powerful in the world, but matters such as punishments for adultery and possible human rights abuses should be brought up in front of the world organizations for all to see, especially if Saudi Arabia herself is a member of an organization that promotes human rights. As for the Sharia laws, the rights of women in this part of the world, I believe strongly that muslims around the world need to show that this is not what Islam as a religion tolerates. There is no more powerful message, more endearing movement when they come from "within". The US not too long ago went to war against each other to rid herself of the practice of slavery! If muslim around the world is to organize, galvanize, and show to the rest of the world that Islam promotes equal rights between men and women, do not treat their women as properties that can be discarded at any time, and decide for themselves to enter the 21st century as an enlightened movement rather then a backward practice of political customs that set them back to the middle ages, I think this is the best way forward. The United Nations again should be the center of gravity for this movement. Islam is already a world wide religion with over 2 billion faithfuls. It's not a country specific issue.

Emily Shen said...

I agree with Kristen that the issue is not limited to just Saudi Arabia. This is an example of institutionalized sexism, which is extremely unfortunate but can technically be changed with something as simple as a policy like our very own 14th amendment. However, the more dangerous problem is that the sexism we see here is more deeply ingrained than that. For example, honor killings and female genital mutilation are not carried out by the government but rather by individuals (sometimes even WOMEN) who are so convinced that what they are doing is the right thing.

How can the U.S. fix this — or should we even bother trying?

Jeffrey Song said...

I agree with Emily here, the issue is that many people approve of institutionalized sexism precisely because of Islam and the Koran.

Here's a link expanding a bit more on this issue:

By no means do I agree with everything that this website says (I feel like a lot of the content is taken out of context), such as the short YouTube clips, but it offers insight as to the motivations and reasons for why sexism is so prevalent and the religious justification for it. The examples offered on the website may seem outlandish or even outdated to us, but that's simply because we were born and raised in an entirely different environment; for them, this is their reality and what they've always been taught to believe. It's difficult I think to judge these people and point fingers without understanding their background. I don't think there's much the U.S can do, we'd have to change their very beliefs to accomplish lasting change and I don't see how that's realistically possible without bringing up even more issues and infringing on their rights.

Regarding my last point, would it be worth it to "bring up more issues and infringe on their rights" if it means that we can reduce institutionalized sexism and install a more democratic form of government? (The answer has definitely been yes in the past for other cases)

Jessica Westmont said...

I agree with Adjon that it will be hard for the U.S. government to fight directly for this woman without affecting the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia. The U.S. cannot just go into Saudi Arabia and just start changing their laws. It is in the hands of human rights organizations and maybe the Human Rights Council of the U.N. to deal with this for now even though there is little they can do to sway Saudi Arabia. As Daniel said this is how marriage in Saudi Arabia works. If someone breaks the bond of marriage, male or female, they receive the death penalty. Maybe it is unfair that the woman is getting a bigger punishment than the man but she was married and broke the sacred bond of marriage. However her partner took just as much part in this as she did. If the roles were reversed and the woman was not married but the man was, would both of them have been executed? The unmarried man committed adultery so he should be receiving equal punishment. Overall the situation personally appalls me, but that does not mean that I think the U.S. should stir up major problems in their relationship with Saudi Arabia. If there is a way to change some of the terrible laws in Saudi Arabia without causing problems between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that would great, but unfortunately their is not big fix for the lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia right now.

Also the United States is probably not the best country to be commenting on the death penalty being used. Maybe one of the hundreds of countries (every country in Europe except Belarus) without a death penalty would have more of a right to tell Saudi Arabia what is black and white for killing, but the United States should not be the voice for all countries about what is right to kill people over. If the U.S. were to stand up to Saudi Arabia for killing someone over something that is considered terrible in their culture, then maybe we should not be killing people over things that we deem terrible in our culture.