One million people sign petition calling for end to flogging of women and children in the Maldives

An online petition calling on the Maldivian government to end the practice of flogging women and children for the crime of fornication has been signed by more than one million people worldwide.

The petition, titled ‘Horror in Paradise’, follows the sentencing of a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes and eight months house arrest, for confessing to a separate instance of fornication during the investigation into the alleged murder of her baby. The child was found buried in an outside shower area.

“Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry,” declares the Avaaz petition.

“Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law,” it states.

Worldwide support for the petition has extended to the travel media, with industry news website eTN declaring that that it would not accept advertising or press releases from any Maldives government agency until the issue was resolved.

“I am outraged on hearing that a 15 year-old girl, who has survived rape by her stepfather and a resultant pregnancy, has now been found guilty of “fornication” and sentenced to flogging and house arrest. I am an active member of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection and as a world citizen I cannot be silence about this. No civilized country should get away with such a nightmare system of justice,” said eTN publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb had made no response at time of press following the petition reaching one million signatures. Deputy Minister and Head of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal was also not responding.

However, following an interview with Maleeh, local news outlet Sun Online reported the minister as saying that the Avaaz campaign was an attempt by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and “different media groups that work alongside the MDP” to “crush the country’s tourism” and “cause havoc on the country’s economy.”

“When they started the campaign, they were clearly aware of the president’s stand, as well the attorney general’s stand on the matter,” Maleeh said, according to Sun.

“Looking back, a 14 year-old was given the same sentence during former President Nasheed’s presidency and nobody seemed to have talked about that. This whole deed is an attempt to defame the country’s tourism industry and [damage the] economy,” he said.

According to Sun, resort tycoon, Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member and presidential candidate of the Jumhoree Party (JP), Gasim Ibrahim, at a rally on Fuvahmulah over the weekend also declared that a slight decline in tourism could have serious consequences on the lives of Maldivians.

As such, Sun reported Gasim as saying, “more focus should therefore be put on developing the fisheries industry.”

In the wake of global media coverage of the initial sentencing, the President’s Office issued a statement late last month expressing “sadness” over the sentence, and promising a review.

“The government is of the view that the case merits appeal. The girl is under State care and the government will facilitate and supervise her appeal of the case, via the girl’s lawyer, to ensure that justice is done and her rights are protected,” the statement read.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad has meanwhile expressed hope that punishments such as flogging would be debated and one day repealed.

Sources on the island Feydhoo have meanwhile told Minivan News that concerns had been raised by islanders since 2009 that the girl had potentially been the victim of sexual abuse not just by her stepfather, but a number of other unidentified men on the island.

Atoll Council President Moosa Fathy said police had conducted numerous investigations into the girl’s situation since 2009, but that she had ultimately been left in the custody of her mother and stepfather even after she was found to pregnant. He blamed the “limited facilities” available to house and protect the girl, as well as a lack of budget, management and staff to shelter vulnerable young people.

Second flogging sentence of underage girl

The most recent flogging sentence passed against the 15 year-old abuse victim follows a similar case in September 2012, in which a 16 year-old girl was sentenced to house arrest and 100 lashes for fornication with a 29 year-old man.

The man was convicted of sexual assault under common law and sentenced to 10 years in prison.  The girl was sentenced under Islamic Sharia on the charges of consensual sex outside of wedlock.

An official of the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights at the time said the matter was the concern of “either the court or JJU (Juvenile Justice Unit). We will be concerned once the girl is flogged, but as far as I know, she hasn’t been flogged yet. We do not want to associate ourselves with a case that we are not involved in.”

Calls for moratorium

Amnesty International in 2009 called for a moratorium on flogging sentences in the Maldives, arguing that the sentences were disproportionately applied to women.

Amnesty’s calls were echoed in November 2011 in an address to parliament by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, who said the practice “constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country.”

Her comments were condemned by religious groups in the Maldives, with protesters urging authorities to arrest the UN High Commissioner and gathering outside the United Nations carrying signboards with slogans such as “Islam is not a toy,” “Ban UN” and “Flog Pillay”.

A presidential state apology for allowing Pillay to speak to parliament was one of the five demands of the December 23 coalition [of 2011], a mass gathering in the capital Male’ that saw the fractured opposition unite against President Nasheed on the pretext of protecting Islam.

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf meanwhile sent a letter to the UN Resident Coordinator, alleging that the Pillay’s call for a moratorium on flogging was “inhumane and disrespectful.”

The Foreign Ministry – at the time under the Nasheed administration – dismissed the calls for discussion on the issue, stating: “There is nothing to debate about in a matter clearly stated in the religion of Islam. No one can argue with God.”


23 thoughts on “One million people sign petition calling for end to flogging of women and children in the Maldives”

  1. It is people working in minivan news who sent this story to various newspapers abroad. These people are waiting for the slightest chance to defame maldives. Thats the whole reason why these people are working in maldives.
    We need to deport these MDP financed propagandists and close down this site, after all it is not even registered.

  2. It's hilarious how the radicals and salafis are saying that even criticising the sentence or signing a related petition makes you an apostate or a kafir. It's even funnier when the moderates start saying the radicals are the ones who "don't know true Islam" and then it just goes back and forth; with the perceived rights of women being entirely based on personal beliefs and superstitions of whoever is more intimidating. The state should take the secular route and play no part in this ridiculousness. It should be protecting the rights of that girl; divine justifications regardless. There is endless paranoid rhetoric from Salafis, and even moderates, about why the Maldives should not be a secular state, but there are many secular states in the world that function just fine. The same cannot be said for places controlled by the Taliban and other radicals; whose members and associates are already quite active in the Maldives. If ignored, it will not the "infidels" but the radicals who will be responsible for the annihilation of our culture.

  3. Tourism ministers inability to talk with press in such a critical situation speaks for itself. Does Mr. Adeeb think his job is just to visit tourism fairs and shake hands with big guns or take pictures in Qatar for his personal campaign?
    Maleeh pointing out others doesn't help either.

  4. @Aishath Majidh on Sun, 24th Mar 2013 5:20 PM


    Have you ever considered that we may not need to flog her? That God will punish her if He wants?
    Have you ever asked yourself, If what I have believed (as faith), is a farce, a hallucinated up story in the frying deserts of Arabia?

    Now for a moment think Yes for the second question!

  5. This case serves only to re-enforce the fact that Islamic men fear women and little girls. What punishment did her "lover" get for his part in this "crime".

    The hate that is shown against women in this case, as well as similar cases across the Islamic world shows the lie when Muslims say "Islam is the Religion of Love and Peace".

    My sister-in-law is from the Maldives, and she is the one who pointed out this story to me when it appeared on the BBC then CNN. It may not mean much to such a rich and powerful country as the Maldives, but my entire family has absolutely no intention of ever visiting. Even my employees were horrified by this, to the extent that 2 cancelled their holiday trip to the Maldives.

    I hope the loss of just some revenue was worth punishing a girl for .... being a victim.

  6. @Andre

    Do you think inbred neanderthals like Aishath Majidh are capable of rational thought? All they can do is parrot what their religious 'scholars' tell them, and follow a pagan arab god. They treat their women like stock animals, and whoever doesn't believe their religion like dogs.

    And then, they run around screaming 'religion of peace' like headless chicken before going home to their 9 year old wives.

  7. Yes this is very cruel ,and should never be aloud in today society, she was abused and should never face any penalty .you should have love comfort for her as a victim .That barbaric law needs to be abolish NOW

  8. Why doesnt this Avaaz campaign call for our stupid parliament members to amend the existing law, rather than crashing down on our tourism industry ? It is the law which is the problem, not the president. If laws are changed to protect young people from being sentenced, (perhaps by raising the age of conviction to 18), then she could have been saved.

    The creators of the website may have (at sometime) had noble aims to protect this girl, however their actions to spin this and use it for political gain as well as to attack our tourist resorts is pathetic.

    Why didnt Minivan News report the fact that it was a fairlure too of the MDP govt in 2009, when the govt knew about this girl being abused but didnt take concrete steps to prevent the abuse?
    WHy didnt MDP govt take measures in 2009 to protect this girl from abuse at her parents or her guardians ? In the 3 years since the case was reported, our elected MDP govt stood idly by doing nothing. There were Gender Ministries, there were independent institutions advocating for womens rights, but they didnt do anything !

    And now when the govt has changed, they are suddenly pouncing on President Waheed, so as to use this girls plight and her suffering, as a political tool so as to achieve scores against the Maldivian tourist resort owners and the current govt.

    This is utterly disgusting. Abusing the suffering of one girl so as to gain political gain, and attack our tourism industry. Whoever's doing this must be one-sick headed psycho.

  9. Maldives has the gold medal on double standards and hypocrisy. Do you think if Anni was in charge that he would approve of this??? NO WAY
    What do you expect from a brutal dictatorship.

  10. @ Aishath
    I agree with you whole heartedly.
    Why are these foreign "reporters" in maldives? There are more important places where wars are going on.
    And who is paying for thier stay in maldives?
    These people have only one motive. That is to ruin the image of maldives and drive its citizen to hunger and famine.
    We need to drive them out.

  11. If this not for Minivan news, this story would have died long ago. They just want to drag this story as long as possible to gain some political scores out of it. along the way damaging the country's economy as well.

  12. Minivan news is now the single biggest threat to maldives and maldivians. We need to kick them out.
    We have already kicked out GMR and now is the time to kick minivan.
    We need to do this urgently!

  13. The current president of Maldives who has come to power through dubious means is in a position to stop this madness. He likes to put out statements saying he does not support this, well why doesn't he do something about it? His governing coalition holds the majority in parliament even tomorrow he could change laws if he so wanted and ban flogging for good.

  14. It doesn't matter even if a billion people sign. In fact numbers show that the non-muslim world population is more than 5 billion. Maldives Gov has already stated its stance, and they reeally wud not be stupid to repeat Fili nasheeds mistakes (pillay issues etc)

  15. @Andre Andreas
    What if you urself are a creation of the hallucination of your mind,what if your mind actually isnt functioning as it should,what if you are not able to perceive the world and its miracles as it is?What if the truth has been hidden from you by layers and layers of darkness?What in the world makes you think you were created to teach others what is good and what is wrong? Are you even worth that?

    Now think my dear friend,think,May Allah remove the darkness from your heart,purify your soul and show you His Grandeur if you are that lucky.InshaAllah

  16. Don't shoot the messenger! Minivan reports what others are saying or what others think, say and do. Tht's just the way the media works. The fact that some journalists on Minivan are not Maldivian nationals is not relevant

  17. minivan is a messenger, true. but a very cynical one. the way they present the 'facts'and embelish the story gives away the plot. the plot is to do maximum damage to tourism. nothing else.

  18. ismail,
    people are all different. They have different views and perspectives. What Minivan reports may not be to your or your poitical party's thinking.Or the tourism cartel's agenda. The fact that you don't approve of what Minivan is reporting does not make it wrong. It's a courageous little outfit trying to do a prifessional job. The way to stop Minivan is for its enemies and detractors to operate a better news site. Compete. Not destroy.Compete, don't shoot it down. Have you seen the tourism co's that already advertise on Minivan ?

  19. Many couples go to the Maldives to celebrate their love together. They want to go to a beautiful place to enjoy and relax, in a friendly and empathic environment. Knowing that this very brutal practice exists and that children are being treated this way, alongside the glossy tourism ads, makes me angry. Even though this is the law of your country, I can choose other places to visit that doesnt sponsor this behaviour. I feel very sad for the girl and will go somewhere else for our honey moon next year.


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