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The New Arab

Saudi who set fire to his wife jailed for 19 months

Women face systematic discrimination in Saudi Arabia [AFP file photo]

Date of publication: 14 August, 2017

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A Saudi man who chained his wife with the help of a friend and then set her on fire receives a shockingly mild sentence for the attempted murder.

A Saudi man who chained up his wife and then tried to burn her alive with the help of a friend received a shockingly mild jail sentence of just 19 months.

The unnamed 40-year-old man restrained his wife with a chain, poured gasoline over her and then set the bound victim alight, local newspaper Okaz reported on Monday.

The woman, given the pseudonym Hajar al-Harbi by the newspaper, survived "miraculously" but has sustained life-changing injuries.

"The authorities at the time dealt with the matter, and the Sharia Court handed him a sentence of one year and seven months and to be flogged," she told Okaz.

"I don't know why he was given a mitigated sentence, why I was given no damages despite forensic reports establishing I sustained significant burns and why his friend was not prosecuted," she added. "Who will bear the costs of my treatment now, which may go on for years?"

Hajar says she wants a retrial of her husband and his friend for attempted murder, which result in a death sentence for the husband and compensation for the surgeries she has underwent so far to the tune of 300,000 Saudi riyals ($80,000), according to Okaz.

Saudis took to Twitter reacting angrily to the story, describing it as a miscarriage of justice. Some noted the case of a Saudi woman who had burned her husband was sentenced in 2016 to be beheaded.

"They should burn him like he burned her," wrote Abdullah. 

"The judge is a man and probably believes it is okay to discipline a woman by burning," wrote Muna al-Khayal.

Saudi Arabia implements a strict version of Sharia or Islamic law, which often gives men precedence over women in matters of personal status. Women are not allowed to drive, and have had to obtain permission from a male guardian for many of their daily transactions and movements.

Last month, Maryam al-Otaibi was released after being detained when she fled her father's house to try to lead an independent life in the kingdom.

In April, a Saudi woman was 'kidnapped' by her family after trying to flee.

In the same month, King Salman ordered government agencies to allow women to access government services without a male guardian's consent.

While some more changes are expected as part of the kingdom's 'Vision 2030' economic reform programme, conservative elites remain influential in forming and approving policy.

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