Saudi Arabia: Does its punishment for rape encourage the crime?

Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing". . . . .

Putting aside one's reactions to this weird penalty, there is the question what impact it has on the total number of rapes. It is not clear. There are two effects. Surely, punishing women will make them even more willing to avoid situations that could result in rape. But it also makes it less likely that women will report rapes when they occur. It is not clear what the net effect is. It would be an interesting empirical study to see if Islamic law increased rape rates. The big problem with testing this is that if rapes stop being reported at the same time that the rules change, one would have to come with something imaginative to figure out how to measure the change in the number of rapes. Surveys would probably also be problematic.



Anonymous James Hasik said...

Putting aside objections, indeed.

That said, I wouldn't immediately presume that this sort of judicial behavior would "surely" reduce the frequency of rapes without first seeing tests of data from analogous situations. My trouble here is that some, perhaps many, instances of rape occur inn situations where women have no sound reason to be wary. Surely (there's that word again), just getting into a car with four men shouldn't be such a situation. Even if I try to hew to a purely positive (vice normative) view of the question, I would hesitate before making that assertion.

Of course, this would be more surprising if it hadn't happened in Saudi Arabia. Bunch of savages. How's that for normative?

11/21/2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Keith said...

In the Op ed I read yesterday:


It says that the "provocation" for the gang rape was the girl being caught in the company of an un-related man, and that this was the initial reason for the girl and her companion being sentenced to flogging.

Interestingly (if correct) the un-related male also suffered gang rape.

Having been defiled, the girl is also now barred from marrying within the islamic faith.

The bar to marriage would be enough of a deterrent to women reporting rape, as without marriage, they are pretty much without a life.

I've got to say, any non moslem travelling to a country where sharia law is present better understand what "dhimmi" is all about and needs to be exceptionally well paid for the risk they take in going.


11/21/2007 12:57 PM  

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