Six women and five men were arrested for partying together in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They have now reportedly been sentenced to 300 lashes and up to a year in prison.
Saudi Arabia is a country governed by Sharia Law. Men and women are segregated unless they are related, making interaction between genders a crime.
Eleven Saudi nationals were partying at a seaside villa when neighbors called the police. The local vice squad discovered alcohol and explicit photographs while raiding the villa. The partiers were intoxicated and resisted arrest, Breitbart reports.
The men and women were tried by the Jeddah-based Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, a court that enforces Islamic moral laws. Initially the 11 defendants were sentenced to eight days to a year in jail and 150 lashes each.
After a failed appeal, the sentence was upgraded to two months to a year in prison and 300 lashes each.
The Committee of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has been accused of human rights violations for its harsh punishments and its treatment of women.
One high-profile incident of the committee's misogynistic attitude was when it refused to let female students escape from a burning school in Mecca because they were not properly covered up, according to Daily Mail.
Fifteen female students died as a result.
Saudi Arabia, which is one of the top U.S. allies in the Middle East, has a problematic record on women's rights. Women are not allowed to leave their homes without the accompaniment of a male and they are forbidden from driving.
On Feb. 8, news broke that a Starbucks shop in Riyadh posted a disclaimer banning women from entering.
“Please no entry for ladies only send your driver to order thank you,” the sign read. The sign was reportedly displayed after the shop's "gender wall" fell down. The barrier was intended to separate families and single people, Breitbart notes.
In December 2015, Saudi women were allowed to vote in elections for the first time. Twenty women were elected into local council positions. Unfortunately, these newly elected female officials have run into opposition from sitting in the same room as their male counterparts, Voice of America reports.
These objections arose from the municipal council in Jeddah.