A woman in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 70 lashes after ‘insulting’ a man on private messaging service WhatsApp.
The unnamed 32-year-old will also have to pay a 20,000 Saudi Riyal (£3,604) fine for tarnishing the reputation of the man, a court has ruled.
The case was filed at Al Qatif criminal court in eastern Saudi Arabia by the man following an argument.The nature of the row is unknown.
The defendant pleaded guilty to insulting the man but rejected the court ruling, according to a Gulf News report.
Article Three of the Saudi Anti-Cyber Crime Law states that any person who commits ‘defamation and infliction of damage upon others’ using technological devices might have to face imprisonment for up to a year and a fine not exceeding 500,000 Saudi Riyal (£90,171).
Two women from Jeddah were similarly sentenced to ten days in jail and 20 lashes in June last year after insulting each other using the messaging service.
In 2013 the Saudi Arabian government considered banning WhatsApp.
A spokesman for the country’s Communications and Information Technology Commission said at the time: ‘We have been communicating with WhatsApp and other similar communication platforms to get them to co-operate and comply with the Saudi telecom providers, however nothing has come of this communication yet.’
Some people believe the government’s attempt to control WhatsApp is due to strict laws on how men and women should interact in the country.
SAUDI HUSBAND DIVORCES WIFE AFTER SHE UPDATES WHATSAPP STATUS
A Saudi husband has divorced his wife after she updated her WhatsApp status to include a reference about having to be patient with him.
The man said he had been on the private messaging service when he noticed his wife had written: ‘I pray to be patient enough to put up with you’ followed by his initials.
Although he was not initially sure whether the message was directed at him it was confirmed by friends and family, newspaper Al-Hayat reported.
The unnamed man said: ‘I called one of my relatives to check whether she was addressing me.
‘I was so embarrassed that my friends’ wives and relatives could see that I was being portrayed in such a light.’
The country’s Ministry of Justice said the top reason for divorce was social media.