A 15-year-old girl sentenced to 100 lashes for fornication on a remote part of the Maldives is at the centre of a new row between moderates
and religious extremists in the Indian Ocean luxury tourist destination.
A court in the tiny island of Feydhoo last week sentenced the girl to a public flogging after she admitted to having sex out of wedlock, court officials have said. The reportedly consensual sexual relations only came to light during an investigation
into the murder of a baby which revealed that the girl had also been repeatedly raped by her stepfather and another man.
Though they appear to have initially backed the decision to prosecute the girl, Maldivian authorities are now working with the country's ministry of Islamic affairs and judiciary to cancel or suspend the punishment, a government official said.
Masood Imad, a spokesman for the current president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, told the Guardian that the government considered her a victim who should not now become a victim of the law as well .
Religious extremists, however, are inevitably calling for the sentence to be carried out.
The case is an embarassment for a government which has struggled to establish its legitimacy internationally and which is currently pushing for re-election to the UN human rights council. Recent statistics show more than 100 people were sentenced
to lashes, administered with a type of flat bat rather than a cord whip, for fornication in 2011, including 11 minors. The vast majority were women.
3rd March 2013. See petition
Demand the Maldivian government overturn this disgraceful sentence
With this story provoking outrage across the world, help us send a clear message that flogging is unacceptable -- regardless of the circumstances.
Add your name to our petition and we'll send a list of names via fax to the President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed each day.
I am outraged on hearing that a 15 year old girl, who has survived rape by her stepfather and a resultant pregnancy, has now been found guilty of fornication and sentenced to flogging and house arrest.
I call on you to release the girl immediately and unconditionally, and ensure that she is not flogged or otherwise punished. Survivors of rape or other forms of sexual abuse need counselling and support - not prosecution. The
15 year old girl must be provided with adequate and appropriate protective and support services.
While I welcome your statement 28 February that the Government will facilitate and supervise her appeal of the case, via the girl's lawyer, to ensure that justice is done and her rights are protected , I want to be assured
that the offence of fornication will be removed and that flogging will no longer be used as a form of punishment in this case and all cases in the Maldives.
The Maldives must end the practice of flogging as a form of punishment and act to amend laws to remove the provisions that allow flogging, as well as those that criminalise fornication .
Sign the petition
Update: Petition reaches 650,000
23rd March 2013. See article
More than half a million people have signed an online petition condemning the Maldives over the sentencing of a 15-year-old rape victim to 100 lashes.
The petition, started two days ago by New York-based campaign group avaarz.org, calls on Maldives President Mohamed Waheed to intervene and had been signed by 650,000 users on Friday afternoon. Avaaz said on its website:
Let's build a million-strong petition ... then threaten the islands' reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law.