Horror In Paradise: Maldives Rape Victim Sentenced To Flogging For Premarital Sex

 @Gooch700 on February 27 2013 8:56 AM
Maldives
Since 2006, 184 people in the Maldives have been sentenced to public flogging, 146 of them female. Reuters

A 15-year-old rape victim in the Indian Ocean nation of Maldives has been sentenced to 100 lashes by a juvenile court for committing “fornication” under the application of the state's Islamic Shariah laws.

The independent Minivan News agency of the Maldives reported that the young girl, who hailed from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll in the northern part of the archipelago country, was convicted of premarital sex at the juvenile court on Tuesday. She also received eight months of house arrest upon transference to the Children’s Home in Villigili.

The flogging will not be carried out until she turns 18, unless she requests the punishment earlier.

Last summer, the unidentified minor gave birth to an infant (resulting from a rape allegedly committed by her own stepfather), which was subsequently buried outside her home. The girl’s stepfather was charged with child sexual abuse, possession of pornographic items and committing premeditated murder. Her mother also faces charges of concealing the crimes and for failing to report child sexual abuse to local authorities.

The BBC reported the stepfather has yet to face trial.

However, according to the office of the Prosecutor General, or PG, the “fornication” charge lodged against the young girl related to a separate incident of consensual premarital sex (which she reportedly admitted to).

The Maldives President’s Office objected to the girl’s punishment, citing that she is a victim, not a criminal.

“We will be talking with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs ... and will review and correct the problem,” presidential spokesman Masood Imad told Minivan, citing that other young women on the islands have been similarly victimized. “We are reviewing this right now, and, if we have to go to the extent of changing existing laws, then we would look to do this.”

However, Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the juvenile court, defended the sentence, declaring that the young girl broke the law.

Human rights campaigner Amnesty International condemned the prosecution of the young lady last month.

“This is an absolute outrage, regardless of the reason for her charges. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse should be given counseling and support -- not charged with a crime,” Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives researcher, said in a statement.

“We urge the Maldivian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the girl, ensure her safety and provide her with all necessary support. Flogging is a violation of the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The Maldivian authorities should immediately end its use regardless of circumstances. The fact that this time a 15-year-old girl who has suffered terribly is at risk makes it all the more reprehensible. Flogging is not only wrong and humiliating, but can lead to long-term psychological, as well as physical, scars.

"We are very surprised that the government is not doing anything to stop this punishment -- to remove it altogether from the statute books. This is not the only case. It is happening frequently -- only last month, there was another girl who was sexually abused and sentenced to lashes," Faiz added.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also called for Maldivian authorities to cease the practice of flogging.

“This practice constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country,” she told MPs in Maldives in 2011.

Her remarks triggered protests from fundamentalists Muslims on the islands.

Minivan noted that, since 2006, 184 people in the Maldives have been sentenced to public flogging, 146 of them female.

Of the 129 fornication cases filed against Maldivians in 2011, 104 people were sentenced, 93 of whom were female, including 10 underage girls.

Maldives is dominated by Muslims, although its legal codes combine both Islamic Shariah and British common laws.

With a population of only 400,000, the Maldives is the smallest nation in Asia, with a long history of colonial rule, including the Portuguese, Dutch and British as its former masters.

Gaining independence from Britain in 1965, the Maldives have been ruled largely by authoritarian governments ever since. The majority of the population is descended from South Indians and Sri Lankans.

Sunni Islam is the dominant faith.

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