Amnesty International recently reported that two foreign women working as servants in the United Arab Emirates were ordered flogged after they became pregnant out of wedlock in that country.
Rad Zemah Sinyaj Mohammed, of India, was sentenced to 150 lashes to be administered over two flogging sessions. She will then be deported back to India.
Wasini bint Sarjan, of Indonesia, was sentenced to 100 lashes and a year in jail, after which she too will be deported back to her home country of Indonesia.
Both women are currently pregnant, and Muslim Shari’a law forbids the flogging of pregnant or nursing women. Instead the court will appoint a medical officer to determine when the women have given birth and/or weaned their respective children, at which point the sentence will be carried out.
Amnesty International notes that the UAE is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which prohibits gender-based violence, including torture, but since the UAE also uses flogging to punish men, its unclear how that convention would apply to this case.
Amnesty International also claims that criminalizing private sexual conduct penalize women more than men, but does not elaborate on how or why this is the case.
It is really quite simple, though — criminal punishment of adult men or women for consensual, non-marital sex is barbaric. The use of flogging further ratchets up (or down) the level of barbarity involved here.
United Arab Emirates. Amnesty International, December 23, 2004.