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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maldives girl spared lashes after global anger



© Wikipedia, Creative Commons
Malé, capital of Maldives.
Valerie Benguiat
Digital Journal

A 15-year-old girl who was sentenced to 100 lashes in the Maldives after she was raped by her step-father has had the sentence overturned thanks to an international campaign. 

Earlier this year, the girl, whose name cannot be released, was accused of engaging in premarital sex. In February she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes as punishment for "fornication", and she was put under house arrest on an island near the capital Malé. Premarital sex is illegal in the Maldives, and flogging is a legal and accepted punishment for it. 

The sentence, issued by a juvenile court, sparked anger from women's rights groups in the country and triggered a global campaign, led by the Avaaz network, calling for the sentence to be overturned. Two million people reportedly signed this petition. 

According to the BBC,

Amnesty International's deputy Asia-Pacific director Polly Truscott said: We are relieved that the girl will be spared this inhumane 'punishment' based on an outrageous conviction, which we hope has also been quashed. No-one should ever be prosecuted for sex outside marriage in the first place.
The case was first sent for prosecution after local police found a dead baby buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, in the north of the Maldives. 

The girl confessed to having been raped by her step-father, who later on killed the baby. The step-father is currently awaiting trial, and the girl's mother also faces charges for not reporting the crimes to the authorities. 

According to the Independent:

Nine out of 10 sentences for flogging in the Maldives in 2011 were given to women, while no one has been convicted of rape in the past three years.
The Maldives is an Islamic republic. While it is portrayed as a tropical paradise of sandy beaches, most tourists are taken straight to their island hideaway by seaplane or speedboat, where they are free to drink alcohol and get luxurious spa treatments, insulated from the everyday Maldives, where alcohol is outlawed and skimpy beachwear frowned upon.
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