JEDDAH, Jul 27: After two years of deliberations, two unidentified Saudi parents have been sentenced to prison and lashings for physically abusing their four-year-old daughter, Al-Watan newspaper reported yesterday.
The 33-year-old mother was found guilty of torturing the girl while the father, 43, was punished for negligence and not reporting the crime.The mother received six months in prison and 180 lashes (60 lashes every 10 days) and the father received three months in jail and 120 lashes over a two-week period. The judge also recommended that the father be demoted from a teacher to an administrator at his government job.
The case came to light when the parents came to a hospital in Jeddah because their girl was having breathing problems after inhaling detergent. The doctor who treated the girl noticed evidence of physical abuse on the girl's back and informed the police.
Adnan Al-Zahrani, the parents' lawyer, said he would appeal the verdict on the grounds that the duo have three other children to care for.
The director of the local office of the Ministry of Social Affairs in Jeddah, Ali Al-Hanaki, has urged the court to commute the mother's sentence to doing social work instead of serving time in prison so that she can take care of her children.
In Saudi Arabia, it is not mandatory that doctors report evidence of physical abuse to authorities. Doctors act on their discretion. Many do not report possible abuse cases out of fear of repercussions from families on the basis of defamation, whose rules are broadly interpreted.