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On the paradise island of Maldives, where tourists delight in beaches, sex, and rose petal bungalow beds with breathtaking views, a 15 year-old girl was arrested after years of sexual abuse Police discovered a dead newborn buried in an outdoor shower. The girl’s stepfather had been raping her for years. Her mother ignored the cries of her daugthter. When the girl became pregnant as a result of rape, they pulled her out of school and waited out the nine months, then killed and buried the newborn after delivery. The stepfather was arrested and charged with pre-meditated murder, child sexual abuse of and possession of pornographic materials. The mother, also arrested faces charges for concealing the alleged sexual offenses.
While most would assume the 15-year old girl would be put into child protective custody and receive immediate counseling and support, the girl was arrested, interrogated and charged with fornication. Authorities claimed during her 'interrogation', she confessed to having consensual sex with another man. She was sentenced to a pucblc flogging of 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest. The identity of this other man, or whether he was charged, is not known. And it might not matter.
In Maldvian Sharia-Common Law, in cases of fornication, 90 percent of those flogged, are women.
U.N. Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay called for a moratorium on corporal punishment. “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,” said Pillay.
Pillay’s statement of concern was met with outrage from the opposition and religious Adhaalath party, giving rise to protests and demonstrations. The Foreign Ministry itself dismissed the calls for discussion on the issue, stating: “There is nothing to debate about in a matter clearly stated in the religion of Islam. No one can argue with God.”
A petition was started on the website Avaaz.org, and now has over 2 million signatures.There is also a worldwide campaign launched called Unite Against Rape to support rape victims/survivors and open the discussion of rape, in hopes of finding solutions to this ancient, horrendous crime.