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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
New life for battered Saudi woman

By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab affairs analyst, Dubai

Rania al-Baz
Rania al-Baz says she has been strengthened by her experience

A Saudi television presenter who was nearly killed by her husband in one of the most publicised cases of domestic violence in the conservative kingdom has written a book about her life.

Pictures of the disfigured face of Rania al-Baz were seen worldwide following the publication of details of the violence in a Saudi newspaper last year.

Speaking to the BBC in Dubai, Ms Baz said she refused to let that trauma rule her life and that she had moved on since then.

Ms Baz is one of Saudi Arabia's best known TV presenters. But she came to international attention when she allowed Saudi papers to print pictures of her after her husband had repeatedly hit her head against a floor causing horrific injuries.

Eighteen months after the attack, she was working again as a TV presenter. Her face is still beautiful, but it is different from the one she had before the beating... the product of many operations to rebuild it after an attack that nearly killed her.

'Liberated'

Has she let this terrible attack change her world? She says not: "A person who hates lives imprisoned in his hatred. He is the one torturing and destroying himself.

I wanted to be the last woman to be battered, the last one to be almost beaten to death
Rania al-Baz

"But I have liberated myself from pain and the disfigurement of my face. I have liberated myself from many other things and have become happy."

Her husband, Mohammed al-Fallatta, was sentenced to six months and 300 lashes for the crime... but he was freed after serving half the term when Ms Baz chose to pardon him as is her right under Saudi law.

Her traumatic experience inspired her to campaign against domestic violence.

Rania al-Baz before and after her beating (Arab News)
Ms Baz allowed the pictures of her battered face to be published
"I cannot deny that the incident was a watershed in my life. It changed me both from inside and outside.

"But as a human rights activist I wanted from the start to turn this incident into a goal to reform society.

"I wanted to be the last woman to be battered, many were beaten up before me, but I hoped I would be the last one to be almost beaten to death: it was physical as well as psychological violence."

Trust remains

Ms Baz has three children from two marriages. Besides her job as television presenter, she is pursuing postgraduate studies in sociology and is learning French.

But have two failed marriages and the terrible violence she has been through affected her relationships with men?

"Absolutely not. My relationships with men have not been affected.

"If one man destroyed my life or disfigured me, thousands more men stood by me and helped me. If one man was bad, I have one thousand other men who gave me hope. I trust men very much."



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