[UK Prime Minister] David Cameron faces calls to intervene in the case of a 15-year-old female rape victim sentenced to 100 lashes in the Maldives as new figures showed the appalling state of women’s rights in the Commonwealth country, writes Jane Merrick for the UK’s Independent newspaper.
British couples are being asked to avoid the Maldives as a honeymoon destination to force the country’s government to overturn the conviction of the girl, who was given the draconian sentence after being raped by her stepfather.
Many of the 500,000 tourists who holiday on the “paradise” islands every year are unaware of the country’s appalling record on women’s rights, with not one single conviction for rape in the past three years.
The Maldivian government’s own figures show that 90 per cent of people sentenced to flogging are female, while one in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse over the past five years.
A new poll of Maldivians for the global campaign group Avaaz reveals that 92 per cent of people think laws to protect girls and women from sexual assault should be reformed, while 79 per cent think current systems are not adequate or fair. The Asia Research partners poll also reveals that 73 per cent think punishments for sexual crimes are unfair to women, while 62 per cent want a reintroduction of the moratorium on flogging.