15-Year-Old Raped by Stepfather Sentenced to 100 Lashes for Premarital Sex in the Maldives

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A 15-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by her stepfather has been sentenced to 100 lashes after she confessed to premarital sex with another man in Juvenile Court on Tuesday.

Reportedly deeply traumatized, the girl from the remote island Feydhoo was also ordered this week to eight months of house arrest upon transferral to a children’s home in Villigili. The flogging will take place when she reaches age 18, though she can ask that the flogging take place immediately.

The minor gave birth to a child belonging to her stepfather last summer, which he allegedly killed and buried outside their home. The stepfather was charged with child sexual abuse, possession of pornographic items and committing premeditated murder. He has yet to face trial, according to the BBC. The girl's mother also faces charges for concealing the crime and failing to report the child sexual abuse.

The “fornication” charge lodged against the girl relates to a separate incident in which she admitted to consensual premarital sex with a man, according to the office of the Prosecutor General.

Last month, human rights protection group Amnesty International condemned the girl’s prosecution. “This is an absolute outrage, regardless of the reason for her charges. Victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse should be given counseling and support - not charged with a crime,” said Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International Maldives.

In a formal statement he added: “We are very surprised that the government is not doing anything to stop this punishment - to remove it altogether from the statute books. This is not the only case. It is happening frequently - only last month there was another girl who was sexually abused and sentenced to lashes."

The Maldives President’s office agrees that the girl is a not a criminal, but a victim. “We will be talking with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs … and will review and correct the problem,” said Presidential spokesman Masood Imad. He also cited that other young women on the islands have been similarly victimized.

However, a spokeperson for the juvenile court defended the harsh sentence because she says the girl broke the law.

Although its legal codes combine Islamic and British common laws, Maldives is predominantly Muslim. Since 2006, 146 of 184 people publicly flogged in the Maldives were female. In 2011, 129 fornication cases were filed against Maldivians and 104 people were sentenced. Of those 104, 93 were female, including 10 underage girls.

Navi Pillay, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for an end to the practice of flogging in Maldives. “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,” she said.

Source: International Business Times