Last year a 15-year-old girl from one of the islands in the Maldives was arrested and sentenced to 8 months house arrest and 100 lashes by the Maldives justice system.
Turns out the girl’s step-father had been raping her for years, while her mother turned a blind eye. When the girl got pregnant the two adults killed and buried the new born. Police discovered the body and arrested and charged the parents with murder and abuse of a minor. They also arrested the girl and charged her with fornication. They claimed that she confessed to having sex with another man who was not her step-father. The population on this particular island is less than one thousand, yet the identity of this man remains a mystery, and he has not been found.
The girl was sentenced, her mother and step-father’s case is still pending.
Under Sharia Law, both men and women whether adult or child, can be punished with 100 lashes and house arrest if they are found guilty of having pre-marital sex or adultery. Part of the common law practiced alongside Sharia, is that no child below 13 can consent to sex and that any sexual relations will be deemed as child abuse. The same law also adds in Article 25, “Unless proven otherwise, it cannot be considered that a child between ages 13-18 had given consent to committing a sexual act. And unless proven otherwise, it will be considered that the sexual act was committed without the child’s consent.”
“I agree that there is a strong contradiction here. Also, the man has been sentenced under common law. The act he committed is criminalized under the existing laws, those drafted and passed through the parliament. The girl, on the other hand, has been sentenced under Sharia law, which is not specifically written down. There is a discrepancy in how men and women are sentenced. At times females face more difficulty denying charges of fornication. This, I believe is a structural issue which needs to be addressed.” Said lawyer Mohamed Shafaz Wajeeh.
There are only 2 kinds of admissible evidence for proving rape in that country, they are; a confession by the rapist or four male witnesses. As a result proving rape is impossible. According to the judicial statistics report of 2011, ninety percent of female rape victims are flogged. The report also showed that in the last 3 years, no cases of rape have reached a positive verdict. This year only 3 rape cases have been reported meanwhile 1 in 3 women ages 15-49 have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse.
It is not uncommon for rape victims to take drastic measures such as self-induced abortions, infanticide or abandoning babies.
The girl charged will endure public flogging when she turns 18. Imagine the anguish of anticipating that on top of all that she has been through.
Here’s a petition you can sign urging the Maldives government to stop this atrocious act.