Folks, I need you to know that these things go on in the world a lot more than people know about. Blaming the victim is a standard practice in societies that repress and exploit women. Sentencing a rape victim to jail to silence her is a common occurrence in some countries and is usually given a religious cover such as here, where the woman is blamed for “fornication.” Often (not here though), the man receives no punishment. Usually this is justified by saying the man was enticed. This has to stop in our world and we are the ones who will stop it.
Maldives: 15-year-old rape survivor to be flogged for ‘fornication’
Amnesty International UK
Photo shows the side of the Maldives the authorities would prefer we focussed on
Last week, a 15 year old girl who was raped by her stepfather was convicted of ‘fornication’ and sentenced to eight months’ house arrest and 100 lashes.
In June 2012, authorities on the Maldives island of Feydhoo discovered that a 15 year old girl had been raped by her stepfather after the body of a baby she had given birth to was found buried outside her house. The stepfather has been charged with several offences including sexual abuse and the murder of the baby. The girl’s mother was charged with murder and concealing a crime.
While the man responsible and his accomplice must be brought to justice, you would think that the authorities’ main concern would be to provide the girl with protection and support such as counselling to overcome these traumatic events.
It is unclear how much help she has received. However, in the course of the investigation, police uncovered evidence of another incident which they used to charge the girl herself with ‘fornication’, or sex outside marriage.
Last week, on 25 February 2013, the girl was convicted of ‘fornication’. The juvenile court sentenced her to a maximum term of eight months’ house arrest and 100 lashes. The flogging would usually be delayed until she turns 18, but could be carried out sooner.
An unrecognised crime, an inhuman punishment – reserved mostly for women
‘Fornication’ is not an offence recognised under the international human rights laws and standards to which the Maldives has signed up. In fact, international standards say that states must not criminalise or punish young people who engage in consensual sexual activity, or are victims of abuse.
Meanwhile, the punishment of flogging meted out for this ‘crime’ directly violates international law, which completely prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. Yet flogging remains all too common in the Maldives. In 2009, over 180 people were sentenced to flogging for the ‘crime’ of fornication. Almost 90 per cent were women.
When visiting the country in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called flogging ‘one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women’. She called on the Maldives to stop this barbaric practice.
If one good thing could come out of this case, it is that the international outrage prompted by this girl’s story and focus on the darker side of life in this seemingly idyllic holiday destination will convince the authorities to end the practice of flogging and decriminalise consensual sexual activity.
The President’s office has already released a statement to say that this girl is a victim to be protected and not punished by the government. A government spokesperson has also said that the Madlives are considering changing the law. Now is the time to press the government to do away with these inhumane practices
If you’d prefer not to text, you can write directly to the authorities in the Maldives. For the full details of the case and how to write to, visit the Women’s Action Network blog
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