Preacher tortures, rapes 5-yr-old daughter; gets away with 'blood money'

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 05, 2013 07:39 hrs

Online activists in Saudi Arabia are calling for harsher punishments for child abuse. This is in light of reports that a prominent preacher received only a light sentence after confessing to beating his 5-year-old daughter to death.

The ‘celebrity’ Saudi preacher Fayhan al-Ghamdi, also accused of raping his daughter Lama, has been released from custody after agreeing to pay ‘blood money’. Lama al-Ghamdi died in October having suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns. 

Fayhan al-Ghamdi admitted using a cane and cables to inflict the injuries after doubting his five-year-old daughter’s virginity, according to the campaign group Women to Drive.

Social workers say she had also been repeatedly raped and burnt. Rather than the death penalty or a long prison sentence, the judge in the case ruled the prosecution could only seek 'blood money', according to activists. 

Despite Saudi Arabia’s famously strict legal system, Women to Drive say fathers cannot be executed for murdering their children in the country. Equally, husbands cannot be executed for murdering their wives.

Saudi media say he was freed last week after serving a short prison term and agreeing to pay $50,000 in 'blood money' to avoid a possible death sentence. The money was presumably offered to the girl's mother or other relatives. Under Islamic law, it is only half the amount that would have been paid had Lama been a boy.

The social media campaign gaining momentum Sunday is the latest attempt to use the Internet to pressure the kingdom's ultraconservative rulers. Formal objections to the ruling have been raised by three Saudi activists, and the twitter hashtag #AnaLama (which translates as I Am Lama) has been set up.

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