Illegitimacy in Saudi Arabia

Apr 16, 20190 comments

This week, the Independent newspaper published an article on the fate of children that are born out of wedlock in Saudi Arabia.

The paper interviewed Dana Almayouf, a Saudi activist living in New York. The article is originally published here:

She explained that unwanted new-borns are found on streets as mothers are not allowed to keep them if they are unmarried. Furthermore, the biggest cause for unwanted babies is rape by family members, and usually, the women are blamed.

This conclusion led Ms. Almayouf, the interviewer and human rights organizations to conclude that rapists in Saudi Arabia never receive punishment because the law protects men, and women have no rights. There was no Saudi official quoted or interviewed in its response.

It is important to understand that Saudi Arabia follows Islamic Law (Sharia). Having children out of wedlock is forbidden under Sharia, but women have the right to keep their children born out of wedlock. It is a personal decision whether a woman wants to give her child away, or whether she wants to shoulder the responsibility.

When mothers abandon their children, they usually leave their babies in areas and at times where they are sure to be found, such as mosques at prayer time. Orphans, if not adopted, have full support and protection from the government throughout their lives. The Saudi government has strict rules, securing them a good life.

Under Islamic Law, the punishment for rape can be death.

Quran in Surah AlMayadh 5.33 says: “The recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth causing disorder and corruption: they shall (according to the nature of their crime) either be executed, or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off alternately, or be banished from the land. Such is their disgrace in the world, and for them is a mighty punishment in the Hereafter.”

If rapes by family members go unpunished, this is because the victims do not inform the authorities of the incident. If social services become aware of incestuous relations in families, the matters are investigated and the perpetrators can be punished. Therefore, an allegation that rape goes unpunished in Saudi Arabia simply is not true.