Under Sharia Law, people who are found guilty of apostasy, murder, rape, or drug trafficking are beheaded in public. More serious crimes will also result in beheading, and then crucifixion of the body. People guilty of adultery are stoned to death; people who steal have their right hand severed; and those caught drinking alcohol are publicly lashed. While Amnesty International implores the Islamic countries to cease these forms of punishment, claiming that the fact that the executions continue is proof that they do not deter crime, the Islamic leaders explain that they are following Sharia law, and that most crime in their countries occurs due to influences from the West. They also explain that while the defendant is not allowed a lawyer, three judges at the lower court, five judges on appeal, and then five more judges in higher court review crimes punishable by death. These judges, unlike their Western counterparts, do not live in ivory towers, according to the interior minister of Saudi Arabia. He adds that his government cannot and will not give any weight to those who criticize divine law.
Many human rights groups are very concerned about the affect on strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law and basic children’s rights. Youth under the age of 18 are often harassed and assaulted by Saudi anti-vice officials merely for dress code infractions, according to the United Nations committee on the issue. This committee is urging “Saudi Arabia to end the imposition of corporal punishment, including floggings and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment to persons who may have committed crimes while under 18”. The greatest fear of human rights groups is that Saudi Arabia, while not defining a difference between a child and adult in its judicial code, may be imposing the death penalty to children under 18 years of age.
As this paper has documented, Saudis hold the family in the highest esteem. Their traditions dictate that the health of the family and tribe is of utmost importance. Thus, on the surface, it seems that the justice system could facilitate the transition to FGC without much difficulty. However, there are a few conflicts that must be addressed to make this possible. The largest hurdle would be crafting the FGC system to work with Sharia law, and not against it. Another hurdle would be to convince Saudi officials that FGC was not a Western concept threatening their traditions. A final obstacle would be to manage FGC without compromising the hierarchy of the family and social unit.