Can you imagine living in a country where your Craft-inspired Wiccan dabbling could get you killed? For Saudi women, it's a reality: Fawza Falih has been sentenced to execution based on witnesses' testimony that she "bewitched" them, says CBS News. Falih was also convicted based on her own confession, but that admission was extracted under extreme pressure from Saudi religious police. Plus: Falih is illiterate, and she later retracted her written confession — she was unable to read the document she signed.
The Human Rights Watch has come to the aid of Falih and has appealed to the Saudi government to halt the execution. "The fact that Saudi judges still conduct trials for unprovable crimes like 'witchcraft' underscores their inability to carry out objective criminal investigations," Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, told CBS.
This obviously isn't the first time that the Saudi government has come under international fire for their legal system's foibles. Last year, another Saudi woman was sentenced to lashings and imprisonment after she was gang raped. She had been sentenced because she was riding in a car alone with a man to whom she was not related, which at that point was illegal according to stringent Saudi laws concerning male/female contact. That woman was eventually pardoned, and on the bright side, the Saudi government has plans to lift its ban on female drivers.
The death sentence of the Saudi "witch" comes on the heels of an edict from the UN yesterday, in which the Saudi government was encouraged to provide a legal framework to stop violence against women. According to Reuters, Yakin Erturk, the U.N.'s human rights expert on violence against women, said, "The lack of written laws governing private life constitutes a major obstacle to women's access to justice...The need to address women's rights will grow increasingly urgent as the voices of women in Saudi society are heard."
When women in Saudi Arabia are reliving the Salem witch trials, it's definitely time for international intervention. What's next, dunking women in the Persian Gulf to see if they float?
Saudi Woman Faces Death For Witchcraft [CBS News]
Saudi Woman Faces Death For Witchcraft [Telegraph]
U.N. Tells Saudis To Tackle Violence Against Women [Reuters]