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Perhaps there is no more cruel and twisted example of the Islamic Republic of Iran's moral perversion than the practice of raping female prisoners prior to their executions.More >>

It's always curious to me what stories hit a nerve in the media. What does it take exactly? The exact recipe of horror, devastation, drama, intrigue and injustice eludes me, I confess.

Once in a while, circumstances collide to garner good coverage for a good story, like that of the brave Malala Yousufzai of Pakistan. Long avoided conversations get started, like, hey, those Taliban are actually really kind of mean and they kill little girls and stuff. But then, another story that seems to exhibit just as much injustice, and with an even grizzlier ending, like that of the slain secondary student, Anisa of Kapisa, Afghanistan, get barely a token mention in passing, with the Government of Afghanistan doing its level best to see the story die promptly, and mostly succeeding.

Like assassination attempts against schoolgirls, stonings are another fussy theme. Mostly we don't meddle, but sometimes we let ourselves get real worked up. Back in 2002, when 30-year-old Amina Lawal was sentenced to be stoned to death by a sharia court in Nigeria for having a child out of wedlock, she made frontpage news the world over. Miss World contestants boycotted Nigeria, Oprah got more than...More >>

A wise ruler might see the writing on the wall and accelerate at least the public relations of reform, in the face of revolution closing in all around. But not so in Saudi Arabia. As well-entrenched dictatorships in its neighbourhood crumble to both local and global applause, the absolute monarchy of the House of Saud is tightening its grip rather than loosening it, and throwing a handout to other beleaguered tyrants while at it.

Saudi Arabia clings to its dubious status as being unique in the world in several respects: It's the last remaining state where women have no rights to vote whatsoever (and of course, cannot run for office... not that there is a lot of elected representation going on in the kingdom). It's the only country in the world where it's illegal for women to drive. Saudi Arabia has the lowest representation of women in the workforce in the world (5%). It's one of the few remaining countries still enthusiastically using capital punishment, and not just for murder by the way: you can be executed in Saudi Arabia for apostasy, drug offenses, sexual deviancy, and witchcraft. Yes, witchcraft. Beheading by sword is the preferred method, but stoning...More >>


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