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in brief: 15 year old sentenced to floggings for pre-marital sex

An alleged rape victim from the remote Feydhoo Island in the Maldives has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in pre-marital sex.

It is alleged that the 15 year old was subjected to repeated rape by her stepfather, and that she gave birth to his child, whose death in 2012 is currently under investigation. However, the charge of pre-marital sex reportedly comes from an  incident with another man that was uncovered in the course of investigation into abuse of the teenager.

The Maldives are a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, independent from Britain since 1965. The nation is predominantly Muslim and practices Sharia Law. The Guardian reports that in recent years political conflicts between moderate and stricter streams of religious practice have caused unrest in the nation.

The incident has brought international attention to the legal frameworks for protection of women in the Maldives. As Amnesty International reports, the punishment for engaging in pre-marital sex in the region is often flogging of women, a practice which is widely condemned elsewhere in the world.

In this case the punishment reportedly includes 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest for the girl, with the lashes to be held off until she turns 18 unless she personally requests them sooner.

While Amnesty International has requested the Maldives hold off on the punishment and remove the crime of ‘fortification’ altogether, the flogging appears to be going ahead.

Human rights groups across the globe are condemning the application of law in this case, though legal officials in the Maldives are said to be insisting that the punishment is not for the sake of pain, but rather to drive home the “shame” associated with breaking religious law.



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