MALE – A Maldives court has sentenced a 15-year-old alleged rape victim to 100 lashes and eight months under house arrest after she admitted to having premarital sex in a separate incident, an official said.
During a police probe into allegations that the girl had been raped by her stepfather, investigators uncovered evidence that she had had consensual sex with another man.
“Though she has been sentenced, she will be lashed once she turns 18,” the court official said Wednesday. “But the sentence will be enforced immediately if she wants it to be carried out now.”
Premarital sex is illegal under the Indian Ocean nation’s strict Islamic law. The girl’s stepfather faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the rape and a separate murder charge, after he allegedly killed a baby that resulted from his alleged violation of his stepdaughter.
President Mohamed Waheed’s spokesman, Masood Imad, said the teenager should be treated as a victim rather than a perpetrator of a crime, but clarified that she should nevertheless “feel the shame” of her offense. “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,” Imad said.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The girl is already a victim and is traumatized. The authorities should be trying to protect her, not punish her.”
Ganguly also urged the Maldives to abolish flogging, calling it “an inhuman, degrading practice . . . the kind of punishment that should not exist in their law books.”