Lashes for wife-abuser

London: The husband of a Saudi television presenter has been sentenced to hundreds of lashes and six months in jail for a brutal assault on her, a Saudi court official has said. Mohammed Bakr al-Fallatta, an unemployed singer, attacked Rania al-Baz on April 4 at their home in Jeddah, repeatedly smashing her face against marble floor tiles and against the walls. He began strangling her and told her to say her prayers because she was going to die. Ms. Baz (29), who is seeking a divorce, was so badly injured in the attack she suffered 13 fractures to her face that have required 12 operations. Doctors said Ms. Baz had a 70 per cent chance of complete recovery. Unlike most Saudi women, she spoke out about the attack and, even more unusually, the Saudi press reported her words and carried a picture of her badly disfigured face. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, she said she was speaking out not only on her own behalf but of other Saudi women, to let them know there was redress under sharia (Islamic law) to protect them from domestic violence.

Guardian Newspaper Limited 2004