This is the first time in Saudi history that a man gets sentenced to prison and lashed for murdering his own child.
Lama (also spelled Luma) was a five-year-old half Egyptian, half Saudi girl. Her mother was born in Egypt and immigrated to Saudi over 25 years ago. Her father, sheikh Fayhan Al Ghamdi, was a frequent guest speaker on Islamists channels. Al Ghamdi divorced Lama’s mother and took custody of Lama soon afterwards. In this video he tears up at the plight of orphans as he talks about the religious rewards of adoption.
According to news reports, Al Ghamdi told the judge that Lama was behaving strangely and that he questioned her virginity. He went as far as to have a medical professional check that her virginity was intact. Her mother said in an interview on Ali Al Olayani’s show that she felt that there was something wrong three months before Lama was admitted to the hospital but that her ex-husband would only allow her short telephone conversations. She begged him to give her the girl but he refused. By the time she finally got to see her, Lama was in the ICU. Her mother described her to Al Olayani; Lama had one of her fingernails removed, the side of her head was smashed and the rest of her body was covered up. She had to hear from hospital staff and social workers how Lama’s rectum was torn open and that the abuser had attempted to burn it closed. Randa Al Kaleeb, a social worker from the hospital where Lama was, told Al Olayani in a phone interview that Lama’s back was broken as well and that she had been raped “everywhere”.
Last October, as the court has initially decided that the four months that the father/murderer spent in prison is enough time and that all he has to do is pay blood money. Four months and a few thousand riyals is the cost of Lama’s innocence and life. This outcome is based on a Hadith.
According to Suhalia Zainalabdeen, a member of the National Society for Human Rights, in all of her career she knows of only one case in which a father was severely punished for torturing and killing his daughter. She says that this leniency is also extended to those who murder their wives. She gives two examples of similar cases. One in which a husband cut his wife’s throat as she was breastfeeding their child and he only got five years for it. Another is the case of a husband who tied his wife to his car and dragged her until she died. He got twelve years.
If that’s what murdering male guardians get, can you imagine the leniency when those they abuse don’t die? Male guardians are legally able to sell their daughters as child brides. There are no laws that protect children, especially girls. When a child protection system was proposed to the Shura council, they got stuck on how to define childhood without banning child marriages. Stories of mothers who cannot get custody or protect their daughters from abusive fathers abound. A social worker that had twelve years experience in the system told what usually happens is that the abused woman would go to the police. The police would then call the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) and the woman’s male guardian who is in most cases her abuser. So there would be the woman surrounded by policemen, clerics and her abuser. The aim is to “reconcile” the woman and her guardian. The social worker told me that the police and clerics would keep trying at the reconciliation for up to four hours. If the woman refuses to leave the station with her guardian, only then would social workers be called and protection offered.
Fayhan Al Gamdi tortured his own 5-year old daughter to death. Lama had her fingernails removed, the side of her head was smashed, her ribs, arm and back broken and the rest of her body was covered up. Lama’s rectum was torn open and her father had attempted to burn it closed after raping the five year old with an iron rod “all over”.
Saudi Arabia preacher Fayhan Al Gamdi gets 8 years, 800 lashes for torturing daughter to death
Mother to be given SR 1 million in blood money after she dropped death penalty call
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief | GULFNEWS, October 8, 2013
Manama: A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a father who had tortured his five-year-old daughter to death to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.
The court in Hawtat Bani Tamim, 160 kilometers south of the capital Riyadh also ruled that Fayhan Al Gamdi, a self-proclaimed preacher, pay Luma’s mother, his ex-wife, SR 1 million in blood money.
Under Saudi laws, the mother had the right to ask for blood money instead of the death penalty for the defendant.
Al Ghamdi’s second wife was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 150 lashes for not reporting the torture inflicted on Luma, Saudi daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday, quoting a Human Rights Commission activist.
The lawyers of Luma’s father and stepmother have appealed the verdict.
Luma’s case shocked Saudi Arabia to the core last year when details emerged how her father tortured as she visited him and his new wife. Reports said that the father used wires and an iron rod to punish his daughter and that he had expressed doubts about her virginity.
She died after four months in coma and was not buried for another four months pending the investigation and the autopsy procedures.
Luma’s divorced mother said that her daughter lived with her under a court order and was allowed to visit her father even though he reportedly did not seem to care about her.
She added that she had agreed to marry her ex-husband as he appeared to be a gentle and reformed man after spending years of his life as a drug addict. However, following the marriage, he turned into a violent man who often beat her, forcing her to file for divorce.
A court in the Eastern Province city of Dammam ruled in her favour and she was told by the judge that she could have the custody of the daughter until the girl reached the age of seven.
The mother said that, following the divorce, her former husband had met their daughter only on four occasions.
“The last visit was when I took her to see him in Riyadh where he had moved after he lapsed into a long silence even though Luma was keen on seeing him,” she said. “The agreement was that she spends only two weeks with him, but after 14 days he refused to let her come back home to me. The last words I heard from her were ‘I love you, mum and I always pray for you.’ Her father often said that he would make her forget all about me,” the mother told Saudi media.
In December 2011, Luma’s mother was informed by the police in Riyadh that her daughter was in hospital where she was being treated for severe burns and bruises, and that her condition was critical.
“It was such a terrible shock to see her frail body in this tragic state. She remained paralysed for several months before she passed away,” she said.
The mother initially insisted on the death penalty for her former husband and his wife for torturing her daughter, but she later changed her mind, saying that she would rather take blood money to help her with the increasingly frustrating financial challenges.
“I have three other children [from a previous marriage] and a house to look after and I will need the money,” she said in June. “There is no interest for the family in the execution of my former husband.”
Amid the public furore about the case and claims that Al Ghamdi would not be given the punishment he deserved because of his religious status, the Islamic Affairs Ministry in November said he was not on its official list of Islamic preachers.
“He is not registered with the ministry and we have no relationship with him in any way,” Shaikh Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, the minister, said. “He had committed a heinous crime and he cannot be a preacher. No-one can ever justify his crime.”
(CNN report from February 2013)