The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has arrested three Bangladeshi nationals in the capital Malé last night for engaging ‘illicit sexual activity’.
Two men aged 32 and 34 years, along with a woman of 29 years, were arrested at around 7:30pm after information had been given to Maafannu Police station.
Following the arrest, police found videos of the suspects involved in similar activity.
Police confirmed that sexual activity between foreigners out of wedlock is considered a crime in the Maldives, noting that any reports of unlawful activity will be investigated.
Under Article 173 of the ‘Regulation on the Conduct of Court Proceedings 2003’, a wide range of activities are listed under ‘illicit sexual acts’ without any specific definitions of what comprises an ‘illicit’ sexual act.
It is commonly understood that most sexual acts out of wedlock are considered to be in this category.
The penalty under the article for ‘common’ illicit sexual acts carried out privately is 1 -2 month house arrest , and for ‘serious’ illicit sexual acts carried out privately the sentence is 7 -10 months banishment for men and 7 -10 month house arrest for women.
Homosexual acts and those with a married person, however, result in heavier penalties.
Ways in which a private illicit sexual act can be considered ‘serious’ include the participation of more than two people, photographing of the act, or committing the act in the presence of another person.
Article 190 of the regulation states that, with the exception of flogging, non-muslim foreigners shall be treated the same as Maldivians, while the penal code also makes no exception for foreigners who commit crimes within the jurisdiction of Maldives.
The common practice in cases where foreigners are investigated for illicit sexual acts, however, is usually deportation without prosecution.
With around one million tourists visiting the Maldives each year, there are no known cases where tourists have been prosecuted for private ‘illicit sexual acts’. Marriage certificates are not a requirement for visiting honeymooners, which surveys suggest comprise nearly a quarter of visitors to the country.
Police have recently looked into such acts allegedly carried out by Maldivians at a Sri Lanka nightclub, while last month President Abdulla Yameen returned the sexual offenses bill to parliament, citing the inclusion of ‘unislamic’ provisions.