By Hawwa Lubna
The Maldives court on Tuesday sentenced a 15 year-old girl to 100 lashes and eight months’ house arrest, for having pre-marital sex with a man.
At any given time in the Maldives, thousands of female tourists are on the country’s beaches in bikinis, with their male counterparts. Many of them are straight and gay couples, married or unmarried, enjoying sex on rose petal-covered beds in water bungalows. For them, this chain of islands with white beaches and blue shimmering waters is a short escape to heaven.
While they 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 15 year-old girl is from Feydhoo island in Shaviyani Atoll, one of the 200 remote islands in the country with less than a thousand inhabitants. She was arrested last year on the island, when police discovered a dead newborn buried in an outdoor shower area in the yard of the house. The investigation uncovered a disturbing yet common reality in the capital and isolated islands of Maldives: sexual abuse.
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.
Soon after the baby’s body was dug up, the parents were arrested and charged with murder and abuse of a minor.
While any authority with professionalism and common sense would be expected to protect a child who has suffered such horrifying abuse and provide help of a psychologist, the Maldives police and prosecutors had a different plan.
On the contrary, the girl was arrested, interrogated and charged with fornication within a few months by the authorities. They claimed that she had confessed to having consensual sex with another man – not the stepfather. The identity of this man, who has not stood up, been found, arrested or charged to this date, remains a mystery.
And yesterday, despite the ongoing debates challenging the legitimacy in pursuing fornication charges against victims of child sexual abuse, the court issued its ruling to flog the girl 100 times. A conviction against her abusive step father, and neglectful mother is still pending.
This case is just the latest in a series of unashamed attempts by the Maldivian Sharia-Common Law based judicial system to punish sexual abuse victims, instead of providing protection and justice….
Filed under: Evil, Islam, Rape, Sexual abuse, Sharia Law, Treatment of Children | Tagged: Evil, Islam, rape, sharia law, treatment of women | 1 Comment »