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With 85 Executions This Year, Saudi Arabia Now Has Job Openings For Beheadings

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By P.V. Durga:

The Saudi Arabian government, in the website of its Ministry of Civil Service, recently advertised job openings for executioners – christening their job as that of a “religious functionary”. The law in Saudi Arabia is strictly in adherence to the Sharia law in Quran and has clear punishments for offences ranging from murder to “modern” crimes such as drug trafficking and cyber crimes. The number of executions this year in Saudi Arabia stands at 85 in just a few months, which is already close to last year’s  total figure of 88.

Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International
Photo Courtesy: Amnesty International

The increase in the number of executions has been attributed to the new King Salman, who has taken measures to expedite the judicial processes by employing new judges, thereby compensating for backlogs. While it is commendable that justice is being meted out swiftly, using death as a punishment is severely questionable.

It was said that the punishment systems were in place in order to instil fear and inspire obedience of the law. Does beheading a criminal in public actually deal with the crime? Law must seek to ensure that citizens live fearlessly, knowing that their rights will be protected. However, punitive law does the reverse, especially in such countries, where the definition of a crime rests in the hands of conservative judges. While King Salman has inducted a younger crop of officials, he has done nothing yet to revamp the judicial sector which is constituted by “deeply conservative judges” who still “have great power to define crimes and set punishments”.

In a world that it increasingly placing emphasis on radical individualism, Saudi Arabia’s justice system has been receiving criticism for giving precedence to “religious mores” over “individual liberty”, which makes it seem like a clear violation of human rights. Moreover, when law is based solely on religious texts, inconsistencies in judgement across different cases are bound to exist, owing to the fact that these texts have interpretative variations. Further, these inconsistencies could also be attributed to the government’s goal of instilling “fear’”. There have been cases where a theft had satisfied the conditions for amputation, but the criminals were allowed to “confess to a lesser charge”. What about the criminals whose limbs were amputated? In which case has justice actually been delivered?

While there have been times when criminals deserving death according to the law have been pardoned by family members of the victim owing to religious reasons, Saudi Arabia ranks third in the world after China and Iran for sentencing people to death, according Amnesty International data. This stands testimony to the fact that there seems to be no focus on the prospect of reforming a criminal. Retribution through death will be unsuccessful in ensuring order in the long run unless the focus is shifted from punishment to reform. Can an individual’s right to life be dictated by a law that lacks uniformity? The problem with the punitive law in Saudi Arabia is definitely not with the religion it follows. What the country needs is some perspective- about crimes, criminals, and the value of their lives.

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  1. B

    Saudi Arabia has the lowest crime rate in the world, courtesy of Sharia law. In Saudi Arabia, rape, molestation, and harassment of women is the lowest in the world. By the way, what are countless western expatriates doing there, where there are no taxes, petrol is cheaper than water, excellent salary packages, great food, where even in a modest job your company will provide housing, education for children, free airline tickets, among a host of other benefits which has seen westerners, including women, from all over the U.S. and U.K. leaving their so called freedom and settling in Saudi Arabia. Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, do not treat women like meat, unlike their Western counterparts. Semi-nude images of women are not plastered on walls, there is no sale of adult DVDs, no one devises cunning methods to sell provocative clothing in the name of fashion, advertisements don’t feature women in skimpy clothing, girls don’t have body image issues, there is no STD epidemic, drug and alcohol abuse is unheard of, and rape is the lowest in the world.

    1. ItsJustMe

      Saudis have a different set of laws inside the US airbase within their political territory. There is prostitution, sale of alcohol and all those thing the holy (Bullshit) Quran abolishes. So they are just suckers for the USA led imperialism.

  2. Monica I.

    We don’t live in an utopian world. I don’t expect any judiciary (or any other entity, for that matter) to be absolutely mistake-free. Executions can sometimes be very politically motivated, and innocent people/people with potential might be victimized. Hence, it’s a no to death penalties from me.

  3. Farhan

    Mr. B, u do sounded feminist in a few parts of ur post which is ofcourse a welcome. I am happy to see u opposing the idea that ‘women should be seen as meat’ which ofcourse exactly the idea opposed by feminist ideology just as you did.But Mr. B you went wrong in realising the fact that sadly both US and Saudi see women as meat, only difference is that Saudi men dont like sharing their ‘percieved meat’ while American men love sharing.Saudi fathers marry of their child daughters or say, sell them of to the loan provider to settle debts with him.Moreover sex with female slaves is legal through ‘temporary marriages’ in Saudi. While in US you see rampant prostitution and ‘breastraunts’. So sad to see worldwide patriarchy operating in so many different forms where even many women shamelessly contribute to it working.Except the feminists who dares to go against this patriarchal injustice, and fights against it.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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