This is a comment (slightly tidied up) which I posted in response to another blogger's comment on the howl of anguish and rage that I posted yesterday in the UAE Community Blog, and subsequently wrote about here:
It has been established for decades that people in positions of care or authority who sexually abuse children find strategies - psychological or physical - to prevent their victims from speaking about it.
Even if the judges were not aware of this, surely it is relevant that a grown man, resident in the girls' home, used a knife to get what he wanted?
Surely it should be recognised that the man who is capable of using a knife to force four adolescent girls in his care into incest and adultery, as they are defined here, would have no hesitation about intimidating them with reminders of the legal penalties for 'their' actions, should the authorities ever find out?
Surely, in a region which places such emphasis on female honour, there should be some understanding of how ashamed these girls would feel, and how reluctant to speak of their shame to anyone?
And surely, someone should have given serious thought to the climate of apprehension, shame and fear that this man must have created in that household, and the cumulative effect on those girls as they saw their turn coming, across a span of twelve years?
Doesn't the combination of an abusive stepfather, a helpless or complicit mother, and a wall of silence surrounding the birth of eleven children suggest how helpless and hopeless these girls must have felt?
Shouldn't all this raise serious doubts about how much choice, control, and therefore culpability can be ascribed to them?
With hindsight, would the youngest sister still report her stepfather to the police?
Do the four older girls think that their new 'freedom' is worth the cost?
The sentence of death by stoning will no doubt deter some potential offenders from sexually abusing children in their care. Unfortunately, there will always be those who think that they can get away with it; and now they have a new weapon to encourage silent submission: eighty lashes if you tell.
Therefore, I will hope for a review of the law through which this case was prosecuted, and the drafting of guidelines for judges who have to rule in such cases, these guidelines to be informed by proper research into the effect of longterm intimidation, and physical and/or sexual abuse on adults and minors.