A 37 year-old man has been arrested for allegedly raping two teenage girls after forcing them to drink alcohol.
The girls – aged 15 and 16 – were raped in the late hours of Tuesday at a rented house on Hulhumale’ island, according to the police.
Staff Sergeant Ismail Ali said the case was reported to the police around 2:30am. The man alleged to have raped the girls was arrested soon afterwards.
The identity of the suspect was not revealed by police as the investigation is ongoing.
“This case is very serious and we are currently investigating it. So no further information can be revealed about the suspect or the case at this stage,” Staff Sergeant Ali noted.
This is the second reported incident of rape this year. In January, police arrested five suspects for allegedly gang-raping a 17 year-old girl in Addu City.
Among the many forms of sexual, physical and emotion violence inflicted on several hundreds of women and girls in Maldives, rape is identified as the most heinous crime, and is being reported at alarmingly high levels.
According to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, 13 rape cases were reported last year alone, of which most were gang rapes and involved minors.
The state-run hospital IGMH’s Family Protection Unit meanwhile reported in 2010 that the centre received 42 cases of rape between 2005-2010. Most cases similarly involved minors.
In 2008 the Global School Based Student Health Survey (GSHS) conducted among 1516 students from secondary school also signaled an astonishing amount of sexual violence, with 17 percent of students reporting being “physically forced” to have sex.
Despite the record high incidence of rapes, the country’s penal code does not classify rape as a separate offence and therefore cannot be prosecuted under any act – a key reason for the distressingly low or non-existent figures on rape convictions.
In HRCM’s initial findings submitted to UN, the commission pointed out that other provisions of the law are used to criminalise rape and that the Prosecutor General’s Office uses sexual assault or forced sexual misconduct charges depending on the gravity of the offence.
“A man can be convicted of rape in the absence of a confession only if there are two male witnesses or four female witnesses willing to testify,” the commission added.
Following a study of reported crimes and convictions in 2010, a coalition of NGOs condemned the performance of the judiciary and the state for its treatment of criminal cases, especially those concerning rape.
They “note with great concern that there is not a single case of ‘rape’ in the statistics maintained by either the PG or the Criminal Court” in 2009.
Information provided by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) to Transparency Maldives states that in 2009 ten cases of rape were reported to police, eight of which were investigated and five sent to the Prosecutor General (PG)’s office. However, Criminal Court statistics showed zero cases under ‘rape’ were prosecuted in 2008 and 2009.
At the time, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem said the discrepancy was “a misunderstanding of technical terms.”
“If consent is lacking, regardless of whether or not there was intercourse, the case would fall under sexual misconduct,” he said.