Medieval Morality in Abu Dhabi: Brazilian Teenager Gets Six Months In Prison for Having Sex

On Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, a 14-year-old Brazilian girl was sentenced to six months in prison for allegedly having had consensual sex with an adult Pakistani school bus driver, according to UPI and other news sources. The man ("MH") will receive a year in jail and both will be deported. The girl initially said that she had been sexually assaulted and her parents apparently called the police. But prosecutors accused the girl of consensual sex after allegedly finding erotic text messages sent to MH on her cell phone. The girl later withdrew her sexual-assault charge against MH (whether freely or under pressure, it is unclear). The case was tried according to Sharia (Islamic law), as are all sex-related offences in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). More details about the case should be forthcoming this week.

Ironically, this latest example of Sharia "justice" comes on the heels of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's admirable attempts to save an Iranian woman, convicted of adultery, from death by stoning. Brazil's ambassador in Tehran made an offer of asylum for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani at Iran's foreign ministry. According to CNN, Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations Celso Amorim told reporters that Ashtiani's threatened punishment was "something that is really baffling to our culture and to the way we see the world."

That's putting it mildly. How about "idiotic, barbaric, and deeply disturbing"? Certainly, Iran and Abu Dhabi's senses of law and order are baffling to most of the (civilized) world. Spare us your medieval morality.

If we applied such standards to all Muslim males who had engaged in pre-marital or extra-marital sex outside of their countries, most world-traveling upper-class men from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE would be locked up in prison or dead by stoning.

Regarding the Abu Dhabi case, the sentencing of a 14-year-old girl to half a year in prison for having had sex is beyond the pale in 2010. President Lula should contact the UAE and bring the Brazilian teenager home immediately. With a little luck, she and Sakineh Ashtiani will soon be on flights heading to Brazil--a far more civilized place, despite its many flaws, than either Iran or the United Arab Emirates. Brazil has a democratic government, women's rights, and no executions for religious crimes. The UAE, despite its mask of modernity in architecture and global finance, is still a primitive backwater in terms of humane values and rational justice.