The Good News and the Bad News

The Good News: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned the Saudi woman sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail after seven men gang-raped her at knifepoint.

The Bad News: According to the Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheikh, the King remains "convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair." Saudi Arabia remains a US ally, despite its appalling treatment of women and other widespread human rights abuses.

The Good News: A federal immigration judge in San Antonio has granted asylum to a Congolese woman who was repeatedly raped by prison officials while erroneously detained as a suspect in the assassination of President Laurent Kabila in 2001. The decision comes 16 months after another immigration judge denied her petition on the grounds that the brutality she described was "simply not comprehensible."

The Bad News: Asylum was granted only after another judge found a new reason to grant it; the US official policy now appears to consider rape as an institutional tool acceptable in the same way waterboarding as an institutional tool is now acceptable.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said it did not doubt the authenticity of her story but upheld the judge's ruling. It found she was not entitled to asylum because she did not face persecution in her country in any of the established categories: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

In granting asylum in the reopened case, however, federal immigration Judge Bertha A. Zuniga found that Monique was persecuted because her interrogators thought she had been involved in the assassination and thus "imputed" that she had improper anti-Kabila political opinions.

Karen Musalo, a UC Hastings College of Law professor who runs a human rights clinic, said she was relieved that Monique had prevailed, but said she was troubled that the decision of the 5th Circuit holding that Monique's rape did not fit into any of the established categories for granting asylum remained on the books.

"I think it is quite shocking that a federal court in the United States would ever characterize a detention -- in which beatings and rapes were inflicted -- as part of a legitimate government investigation," Musalo said. "Rape is prohibited by numerous international law norms. The Geneva Conventions protect women against rape, and it is generally recognized that rape and other sex crimes are 'grave breaches' of the conventions."
Deeply troubling.

But we don't care about grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions anymore, now do we?

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus