Saudi husband sentenced to 300 lashes and jail for battering TV presenter wife

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The Independent Online

A Saudi court has sentenced the husband of a television presenter to 300 lashes and six months in prison for beating her.

A Saudi court has sentenced the husband of a television presenter to 300 lashes and six months in prison for beating her.

Rania al-Baz allowed Saudi newspapers to publish pictures of her battered face last month in an effort to highlight the taboo topic of domestic abuse in the conservative kingdom. Ms Baz, who works for state television's Channel One, said that her husband, Mohammed al-Fallatta, battered her so badly that he broke her nose and fractured her facial bones in 13 places.

The English-language Arab News said Fallatta, an out-of-work singer, surrendered to police after two weeks in hiding. He originally faced an attempted murder charge, which was reduced to "severe battery".

The paper, which said Fallatta was sentenced on Saturday, reported that Ms Baz had filed for divorce and custody of their children.

Researchers say there have been no official studies of household violence in Saudi Arabia, where the tribal culture frowns upon publicising domestic affairs, but abuse is thought to be a significant problem. Dima al-Sulaiman, the director of the National Home Health Foundation, said the abuse of women "is a very common problem in Saudi Arabia, where maltreatment starts from childhood".

Ms al-Baz allowed pictures of her severely battered face to be published shortly after the 4 April incident, in an attempt to highlight the institutionalised abuse of women in the kingdom. The presenter subsequently had 12 operations to attempt to repair the damage. "I want to use what happened to me to draw attention to the plight of women in Saudi Arabia," she said.

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