Fifteen year-old’s appeal of flogging sentence for fornication stalled in High Court

State and judicial authorities have failed to provide a timeline for the appeal of a 15 year-old rape victim sentenced to flogging for a separate incidence of fornication, despite repeated pledges and promises of wider legal reform.

The 15 year-old minor from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll was convicted to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest in February 2013, after confessing to fornication with another man during an investigation into allegations she was sexually abused at the hands of her stepfather. Those allegations arose with the earlier discovery of a dead baby buried in the outdoor shower area of the family’s home.

A month after the sentence was delivered, sources on Feydhoo told Minivan News that islanders had been raising concerns to the authorities over the girl’s abuse by other men on the island since 2009.

Sources at the time accused law enforcement officials, civil society and successive governments of failing on every level to protect the minor.

Widespread international coverage of the sentencing has since led to over two million people signing an petition calling for her sentence to be quashed, a moratorium on flogging, and reform of laws to protect women and girls in the Maldives.

Despite the country’s international reputation as an romantic island getaway for couples, fornication (sex outside marriage) is illegal in the Maldives and is subject to Sharia punishments under the 1968 penal code.

However, statistics from the Department of Judicial Administration show that flogging sentences are overwhelmingly issued to women. Of the 129 fornication cases filed last in 2011, 104 resulted in sentences – 93 of whom were female.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has dismissed calls to suspend Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed following the judge’s appearance in at least three recently-leaked sex videos appearing to depict him fornicating with unidentified foreign women in a Colombo Hotel room, citing “lack of evidence”.

15 year-old’s appeal stalled

The opening hearing of a High Court appeal of the girl’s flogging sentence, filed on her behalf by Attorney General Azima Shukoor, was held on April 29

The High Court has confirmed to Minivan News that there had been no further hearings in the three months since, and no further hearings scheduled.

However, a legal source speaking this week on condition of anonymity said the hearing in April was believed to have been the last, with the court expected to deliver a verdict on the case the next time it reconvened on the issue.  The appeal is being heard behind closed doors.

The flogging would be administered when the girl turns 18, although local media has previously cited a court official who claimed it could be implemented earlier should the minor request so.

Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham confirmed that the sentence had not been carried out, and reiterated that no date had yet been set for a verdict on the minor’s appeal.

Usham added that a process to oversee legal reforms into the treatment of sexual abuse victims involving state bodies including the Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office was ongoing at present.

“Hopefully something concrete will be announced on this soon,” he said, but could not speculate on a timeline.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government has previously pledged to review and “correct” laws it says victimise young women and minors who have suffered sexual abuse.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad previously expressed hope that the use of punishments such as flogging would be among practices debated as part of reforms.

“I’m sure when we debate [punishing suspects for fornication with lashes], we will find an acceptable solution for all parties,” he said.

More recently, the President’s Office said current legal practices involving the treatment of victims of sexual offences could not be changed overnight, and required gradual implementation.

“We cannot go any faster on the matter than this, we don’t want to see any trouble like in the past. We can’t just go and ask a judge not to [give sentences like this] anymore,” Masood said in May.

The President’s Office today confirmed that Dr Waheed had established a “special committee” as part of efforts to try and oversee the requested legal reforms, referring any specific questions on its work to Spokesperson Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeq.

Thaufeeq was not responding to calls or text messages at time of press.

Recently appointed Gender Minister Dr Aamaal Ali meanwhile requested Minivan News contact the office of former Gender Minister and current AG Azima Shukoor concerning the current status of attempts to reform laws on the treatment of sexual abuse victims.

Azima was not responding to calls or e-mails to her office at time of press.

Local newspaper Haveeru meanwhile last weekend interviewed the judiciary’s official flogger, Abdul Khalig.

“According to his memory, Khalig has enforced flogging sentences of over 300 people which amounts to thousands of lashes with his leather whip,” reported Haveeru.

“But Khalig to this day remains hesitant when it comes to flogging the elderly given their age. But he assures that no old person mostly sentenced for fornication and child abuse had come to any harm as a direct result of the flogging.

“No matter who the person is, this must be done. It is not a cruel punishment. Only one woman fainted whilst I was flogging her,” Khalig told the paper.

“I notice that people who have been flogged, repent and live good lives afterwards. Because this such a small society I see it quite often. People who have been flogged for fornication later go on to live very good lives,” he said, adding that he was now hoping “to impart what he has learned to the next generation before he retires.”

15 year-old’s case “tip of the iceberg”: Amnesty International

Speaking to Minivan News at the conclusion of a nine day visit to the country in April, Amnesty’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott claimed the treatment and controversial flogging sentence handed to the 15 year-old girl was the “tip of the iceberg” regarding the Maldives’ treatment of sexual abuse victims.

Earlier the same month, Maldivian NGO Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) criticised child protection measures currently in place in the country as “inadequate”, urging government authorities to incorporate several key human rights obligations into domestic law.

ARC at the time told Minivan News that although the Maldives has signed and agreed to be legally bound by the provisions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols, the commitments have yet to be adopted into law.

Minivan News meanwhile in June investigated reports of “widespread” child prostitution being conducted in Laamu Atoll, and was informed by a private clinical psychologist that the practice had become “so common” that the victims considered it “normal”.

Multiple sources told Minivan News the practice has prevalent across the Maldives, ranging from male benefactors grooming children with ‘gifts’ to parents actively selling the sexual services of their children – some as young as 12.

Official and public acknowledgement of the “systemic” child sexual abuse remains taboo, although Azima Shukoor – then Family and Gender Minister – in a statement on May 10 to mark Children’s Day revealed that “children being used as sex workers, where the children are sent to places as a means to pleasure people and to gain an income from such a trade. This is being practiced in the Maldives today. Both boys and girls are being used in this trade.”


22 thoughts on “Fifteen year-old’s appeal of flogging sentence for fornication stalled in High Court”

  1. Reading Minivann news, you feel that the only thing that goes in Maldives is flogging of women.

    Also one can see a certain obsession with all things sex. There is a frequent talk of 'rivers of wine' by Addu bin Suvaadeeb - infact every other day.

    So monotonous. Same story recycled. so little originality.

  2. This is the status of Mordis.

    Mordis thinks Islam is a pick and choose religion. God has given a book, a messenger, intelligence, yet, we dont seem to understand it. Maybe God should have sent the messenger to Mordis. Oh wait, may be Anni is a messenger.!

    The picking is done to suit whoever is in charge and to manage that situation.

    The opposition will not wreak havoc, as their chosen cherries do not match above and would start ranting all quotes from heaven to deep sea, to unseat the rulers.

    5 years later the same gets repeated.

  3. Sure, "flogging obsession", it's a damn shame that our MV news media publish such stories. In good old times the people within Maldives, let alone outside, would not know about. Which is definitely better ....
    That's the typical attitude : hide the problems and there are no problems.
    I am tired of this kind of people. Sick too.
    A child abusing Chief Judge Criminal Court, Ablo, is kept in his bench. To give verdicts as the regime pleases.
    A judge of Supreme Court is caught with fornication on three different sex tapes. God knows how many verdicts of him have been blackmailed. Same judge is now going to give punishment to a rape victim ... for fornication.
    Head of CSC Civil Services is a women harasser, proven, accepted. The coup prez tells him : it's fine, just women, you can stay.
    CEO of Sun Media - political link of course - provides jobs for sex. No big thing in our society.

    But we should not talk about.
    DO YOU WANT YOUR 10 yo old daughter to marry a guy of say 37 ? I call that legalised rape. The mullahs say its according to their religion.
    Dont talk about.

  4. What happened to my submission? Too controversial or too truthful to get past the moderators?

  5. I am deeply saddened and angered that leading members of Maldivian society and government have failed to speak out in the name of justice or to take a strong stand against the injustice that has been meted out to this young girl. We have recently seen how when a sitting member of the Supreme Court was videotaped committing adultery with several call girls, the powers that-be have defended him on the grounds that the evidence did not meet the high evidentiary requirements set by sharia law. It is true that sharia does set very high evidentiary standards of proof in the hadd cases. But the double-standards involved in prosecuting a minor who happens to be a victim of abuse are outrageous; and go to show that sharia law is today invoked only as an instrument to perpetuate the repression of women and girls by misogynist mullahs who are in the pocket of politicians and crooks.

    But it is not only the fornicating judiciary who are displaying a disregard for the fundamental rights of this young victim; but one wonders where are the members of the Human Rights Commission, the Members of the Parliament, and the Members of the Cabinet, all under oath and big fat salaries to protect the rights of the people? Or do they all have fornicating videos which render them silent? I am sorry to be so rude, but hey, it is a minor about to be flogged, and the silence of these powers to be is insufferable!

    The Maldives is signatory to the UN Child Rights Convention, the nearest there is to a human rights treaty that is subscribed to universally ( only Somalia and USA have not signed it). Under that treaty, Maldives made only two reservations- article 14 on religious freedom and article 21 on adoption.
    The Maldives also did not enter a reservation to the UN Convention on Torture, and the only reservation entered to the International Civil and Political Rights Convention was to article 18, on religious freedom. Even if these reservations were to be regarded as valid-- and there is good reason to argue that they are not-- the Maldives is clearly bound by provisions of international treaties that ban flogging.

    When Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed ordered the release of His Holiness Yameen and His Holiness Qasim from remand custody over bribery allegations, he invoked provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Politcal Rights and other international norms not necessarily domesticated by parliamentary legislation, as grounds to set them free. That was fine, of course; but why cannot the same standards be invoked to free a young rape victim, especially as these international law provisions have now been domesticated?

    More than the issue of flogging, it is clear that the girl is a victim of injustice-- a victim of serial rape and sexual abuse. What part of sharia is about propagating injustice? By failing to protect this girl, not only are we condemning a brutalized victim to further abuse, but also condemning sharia as an instrument of injustice! It is time sharia itself was rescued from the grip of sadists parading as mullahs! But I guess our Ministers, MPs, Judges, NGOs and opposition politicians care too much about their personal careers and videotaped indiscretions to take a stand for justice!

  6. @Flogging obsession

    Good point!
    Plain boring stuff...

    Originality left the day they started marketing the lie about 'coup'.

    As long as the goal is to repeat the lie, the correct focus will not return.

  7. And there are self important people who sold their soul to devil, who makes their livelihood harassing Islamic countries and write useless comments here just pretending to care about women.

    For the benefit of such people, let it be known that today also a local girl was raped by an expatriate in Hulhumale. Where is the anger about her victim-hood? Where is the concern about the runaway immigration problem?

  8. regarding: Flogging obsession

    I guess it's really flogging obsessed, since it reads only the articles regarding it.

    Maybe it needs to be flogged, given a taste of its own medicine?

  9. 🙂 but publishing my comment about the missing comment is just plain dumb! Get your act together Minivan News and at least have the decency to tell me why my opinion is considered unsuitable for publication. Could it be that I dared to suggest the prophet was not a suitable role model?

    Thank you for your interest in the Minivan News commenting policy. Please refer to point 6 of our Commenting Guidelines - Minivan News team

  10. She herself wants to be flogged. Not for the rape, but the sexual encounters she has had by her own will. She said that she wants to repent and she wants to be flogged. So who are you, or me, to say otherwise?
    You people are so hypocritical right down to the bone. You preach freedom and bullshit but you can't stand to see one choose repentance. Such a shame. But what more can I expect from people with no common sense or brains?

  11. You can rant and rage all you want.....but thanks to the mad mullahs your stupid laws will never change. If any of the world's people are disadvantaged by their religion it is Muslims.....still stuck in a seventh century time warp.
    We are now in the twenty first century but sunni Muslims are still flogging children in public.
    I will never understand where the arrogance and superiority of Maldivians comes from because in reality you are just a bunch of primitive islanders who do not wish to change.
    Carry on flogging as they say...........

  12. The girl has no freedom to choose? on Sun, 4th Aug 2013 4:55 PM

    You are a complete idiot. The girl is a victim of both the rape and the culture that allows this punishment.

    She is brainwashed to belief flogging is a penance for sex outside of marriage, she is a child who according the majority of world cultures is non-blameworthy in law.

    If truth be known she is under pressure from those around her to accept this punishment, yet when it is carried out she will come to realise that attitudes to her situation will not change and will continue to be treated as dirt for the rest of her life.

    It is not a crime to have sex outside of marriage, unless you happen to be a female in an Islamic country, repeat a female, nor a male.

    I doubt less than 5% of the population of the Maldives could claim to have abstained from sex prior to marriage. So the word to describe the nation would be hypocrisy.

  13. Thank you Minivan news. Point taken, I understand your difficulty. 😉

  14. 'The girl herself wants to be flogged.' Evidence please.

    As I understand it, the girl has a choice to take this inhumane punishment now, or defer it until her 18th birthday. If there is any grain of truth in your claim that she 'wants to be flogged' why hasn't it happened already?

  15. @DMF: Interesting reflection.

    Does a decision reflect genuine autonomy of the will if it is not a deeply informed decision, made from a place of relative power.

    But then, do you not see the logical fallacy in the above question?

    Just an interesting reflection on the nature and meaning of freedom - if freedom is not something purely relative/ subjective, is it still freedom?

    I do agree with Kevin Armes though, she should not be allowed to make the decision that she is flogged until she has reached an age of maturity and education to make a more informed decision.

  16. @Ben Plewright on Wed, 7th Aug 2013 10:59 AM

    On reading many of your posts in the past I am surprised you would give any type of comment to support the flogging issue.

    A deeply informed decision would come from a basis of true facts, not a corruption of what is expected of a person.

    I thought as many do that Islam was a religion of peace, not one that should cause pain or destruction to others or in this case one's own skin.

    You question her right to choose under freedom. If she flogged herself would that not be called self harming? if she took her own life, would that not be a crime in Islam? Yet these are things that civilised individuals would state the case against her freedom to decide as there would probably be a conflict with an unstable mind. I would judge her mind has been corrupted by what society expect her to do as a punishment.

    If a man beats you in the street with a stick, this is a criminal act of assault. If whoever carries out the flogging in the name of religion are they not also carrying out an assault.

    Setting punishment by views of a religion is a dangerous road to follow. It is open to massive miss-carriage of justice. A fine on appeal can be repaid to the innocent, a prison sentence can be compensated with money to the innocent, a flogging cannot be taken back from the victim of rape, a death sentence cannot be withdrawn once carried out, an amputation cannot have the hand sown back on if found innocent on appeal.

    No one on this earth has the right to cause pain on anyone in the man of Allah.

  17. Of course i condemn flogging. My reflection was about the meaning of freedom, bad case to draw an example from. I don't believe freedom should be absolute. You know what it was an extremely ignorant statement on my behalf, trying to philosophize I just stated the obvious and exposed my own stupidity. But I did not mean to support flogging

  18. @Ben Plewright on Wed, 7th Aug 2013 2:52 PM

    Ben on something's I disagree with you on a few subjects, but not many.

    However from your last statement I am pleased to see you are a man of moral standing and courage in your beliefs.

    It's a pity that the powers in the Maldives don't admit their mistakes and realise the world has changed drastically compared to when these laws were first laid down. It will also lead to the day my marriage to a Maldivian woman and my children will be recognised as citizens of a beautiful country.


Comments are closed.