15 Year Old Maldives Girl Sentenced To 100 Lashes For Being Raped!

Imagine this.

A 15-year-old girl, who has been repeatedly raped by her stepfather, sits in a courtroom during his trial.

The evidence is clear, there is no question that this crime took place. That this man, in a position of trust and confidence in her life, violated her sexually again, and again, and again.

During the trial, it comes to light that the girl had had consensual sex with another man, prior to the rape.

And so she herself is sentenced. Because the girl lives in the Maldives. And the island paradise destination that Australians look longingly at photos of in travel agency brochures…. is subject to Sharia Law.

And under Sharia Law, it is a crime to have premarital sex.

So the girl, a victim of horrific rape, is sentences to 100 lashes as punishment for her ‘crime’.

You can stop imagining now. Because this is no hypothetical, this is real, this is happening: in 2013.

On February 26, the girl was further sentenced to eight months house arrest for her ‘crime’. The Juvenile Court that oversaw her case (yes, this was the decision of a legitimate court) ordered the girl to a children’s home in a nearby community, where she is to serve her eight months arrest before being subjected to the whipping on her 18th birthday.

President Mohamed Waheed

The Stringer reports that a spokesman for Maldives President Mohamed Waheed, Masood Imad, defended the sentence, saying, “She is not going to be lashed to cause her pain. Rather, it is for her to feel the shame for having engaged in activity forbidden by the religion.”

The girl’s stepfather has also been charged, and sentenced to 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting a minor.

The fact that it is somewhat surprising to hear that an offender in a case like this has actually been charged and punished, is an indictment of the world we live in – where often perpetrators of gender-based violence go free, particularly in developing nations.

Unbelievably, this story gets worse.

The girl, her stepfather and her mother were all first arrested in June 2012, after police found the body of a baby she had given birth to, buried outside their home.

According to the Minivan News, an independent news source in the Maldives, the girl fell pregnant to her stepfather by rape when she was just 14-years-old. She was then pulled out of school. When the baby was born, the stepfather purportedly murdered the infant and buried the body in the backyard.

And now, after everything this girl has endured, her pain is not yet over. Not only has she suffered the physical and emotional abuse of being repeatedly raped; now she will be further physically assaulted.

She will bear mental and physical scars from her rape, and from her lashing. Perhaps for the rest of her life.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International has decried the charges against the girl as ‘inhumane’:

“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”.

Unfortunately, this is not the only young woman to have broken the country’s laws against pre-marital sex in recent years, and been flogged as a result.

In 2012, a 16-year-old was lashed for the crime, and in 2009 a pregnant 18-year-old received 100 lashings for having sex with two different men.

Back in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke out against the use of flogging as a punishment, and pushed for the government in the Maldives to change their laws.  Pillay said, “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.”

In covering this story, The Stringer republished a section of the Maldives’ Minivan News coverage, in which a local journalist took a brave stance and criticised the current punishments associated with Sharia law.

 “While [tourists] enjoy a piece of paradise on a luxury resort vacation, just a few miles away 300,000 locals face the grim reality of a struggling democracy and increasingly radicalised interpretation of Islam.”

“Women and girls are bearing the brunt of this. Calling it sheer hypocrisy would be a gross understatement.”

“The girl’s stepfather had been raping her for years. Her mother assisted this gruesome abuse by turning a blind eye and deaf ear to her pain and cries. When the girl became pregnant as a result of rape, they pulled her out of school afraid that the community would find out the family’s dark secret. They waited patiently for nine months, and killed and buried the newborn after delivery.”

Ms Lubna reported that in the Maldives there is “also the significantly low rape convictions in cases where the rape victim is an adult. Annual judicial statistics show that in past three years, zero cases of rape have reached a positive verdict. This year alone, three rape cases have been reported, while one in three women aged between 15 to 49 are found to be victim of physical or sexual abuse – a statistic that is a reminder of a justice system that is failing women in every way possible.”

Those are appalling statistics. And it’s clear — when zero per cent of rape cases reach a positive verdict and so perpetrators of violence go unpunished, and yet young women who engage in premarital sex are flogged — that somebody needs to speak out.

It’s equally clear that many of these women can’t speak out themselves. If they did they would be, at best, publicly shamed.

At worst, victims of corporeal punishment.

Amnesty International is petitioning the government in the Maldives to stop the girl’s flogging. You can sign the petition here.


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