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.
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.