Two-thirds of Maldivians back moratorium on flogging: survey

Nearly two-thirds of Maldivians support a moratorium on flogging, according to the results of a survey conducted by Asia Research Partners and social activism website

The survey, the first of its kind to be conducted in the Maldives, found an “overwhelming” 92 percent of Maldivians believe that laws and systems to protect women from sexual assault should be reformed.

Of those polled, 62 percent supported an outright moratorium on the practice of flogging, while 73 percent declared existing punishments for sexual crimes were unfair to women.

Moreover, only one in five of those surveyed said current systems and laws were “adequate or fair”, according to a statement issued by Avaaz.

“While honeymooners relax in paradise, a war against women is being waged in the Maldives which the government is refusing to stop. Over two million people from around the world want them to act and now 92 percent of Maldivians want laws against rape and sexual abuse. President Waheed can easily pass a law banning flogging but refuses to act to end this medieval practice,” said Avaaz Campaign Director, Alice Jay.

“The poll flies in the face of the country’s parliamentarians who have claimed it would be “political suicide” to outlaw flogging and have done nothing to stop the practice, but instead given in to hard-line Islamist calls for harsher Sharia punishments.”

The survey was conducted across Male’ and Hithadhoo in Seenu Atoll in May 2013 by Asia Research Partners, both over the phone and through face-to-face interviews. All respondents were aged over 18 years.

‘Horror in paradise’ petition

The survey comes months after a case in which a 15 year-old rape victim was sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months’ house arrest for a separate offence of fornication garnered substantial international attention and condemnation.

The 15 year-old’s case attracted worldwide media attention and was widely condemned by international organisations and other nation states. Media condemnation was particularly strong in the UK and Germany, two of the Maldives’ most significant tourism markets.

In March, an Avaaz petition calling for the repeal of the sentence and a moratorium on flogging in the Maldives collected more than two million signatures – a figure more than double the number of tourists who visit the country annually.

“Since the campaign launched four months ago, Avaaz has been in discussions with the Maldivian government officials who have so far refused to take action on this issue,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Despite promises from the Gender Ministry, the President’s Office, the Attorney General’s office and the Foreign Ministry, this 15-year old child still faces the flogging sentence and far from ending this practice, some Maldivian political parties are calling for even harsher punishments.

“As a result of their failure to act, Avaaz is now planning to run hard hitting targeted adverts urging President Waheed and several parliamentarians who own some of the major Maldivian resorts, to act,” the organisation declared.


After the sentencing initially made international headlines, President Mohamed Waheed issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the verdict and pledging an appeal.

At the same time his coalition partner, the Adhaalath Party, warned that “Allah has decreed that expressing disapproval of issues such as this contradicts with faith in Islam”, and cautioned that “If such sinful activities are to become this common, the society will break down and we may become deserving of divine wrath.”

Then-Attorney General Azima Shukoor – now Minister for Human Rights, Gender and Family – subsequently lodged an appeal of the decision in the High Court arguing that the girl’s confession to the fornication offence had been taken in violation of established procedure.

The first hearing was held on April 29 behind closed doors, with no apparent movement in the case since.

Avaaz meanwhile moved to pressure the government into entertaining a moratorium on the practice of flogging.

The most recent Avaaz statement cited UK-based religious scholar Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan, who said “Sharia is not a fixed set of laws that can never be changed. Modern penal codes are thus fully Islamic if they share the values of justice and compassion, even if they do not include amputations, floggings or stonings to death. The latter punishments should be seen as ancient cultural practices, not essentially Islamic.”

The government’s position has meanwhile wavered between broad support for a moratorium and legal reforms to suspicion over the motivations of the Avaaz campaign and allegations of politicisation.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad was not responding to calls at time of press, but has previously noted that the Maldives had for over 50 years turned away from practicing Sharia punishments such as stoning, amputation and the death penalty, and suggested similar space for a debate on flogging.

However he cautioned that all authorities involved in proposed legal reforms would have to tread “a very fine line” in order to tackle long standing “traditions” and beliefs in the country.

At the same time, recently dismissed Deputy Tourism Minister Dr Maleeh Jamal has called for “negative news to be minimised”, emphasising that “People should not be doing anything to damage the industry. In Switzerland, you would not see a campaign designed to damage Swiss chocolate.”

A parliament committee currently reviewing the new penal code has meanwhile come under pressure from conservative religious elements, including the Adhaalath Party, to ensure Hadd punishments were included in the code – including flogging and amputation.

Speaking recently to Minivan News, one member of the committee said he feared not including such punishments would lead to backlash from conservative groups and amount to “political suicide”.

“We want to remove it as well. But, our hands are tied. Only public pressure can stop it,” he said.

Flogging stats

Almost 90 percent of the people found guilty of “Zina” – fornication – and sentenced to flogging in 2011 were female, according to statistics from the Department of Judicial Administration.

A total of 129 fornication cases were filed in 2011 and 104 people sentenced, out of which 93 were female.

These included 10 underage girls (below 18), 79 women aged 18-40, and four women aged above 40 years.

Gender Ministry statistics meanwhile show 1 in 3 Maldivian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have suffered either physical or sexual abuse over the past five years. At the same time, there has not been a single conviction for rape in the last three years.

Read about the practice of flogging in the Maldives


33 thoughts on “Two-thirds of Maldivians back moratorium on flogging: survey”

  1. In Switzerland, you would not see a campaign designed to damage Swiss chocolate.”

    Swiss chocolate doesn't flog women for fornication.

  2. Was this poll conducted in person or online? If it was conducted in person, the results would have been substantially different. A lot of the older generation, and some of the youth are still very adamant in following the principles of Islam, and not open-minded at all.

  3. how many maldivians participated in this survey? how much is the 92 percent in the actual population?

  4. Thank you for this information. It is really an eye-opener and puts to shame all those self-proclaimed custodians of people’s wishes and champions of people’s rights! Seems to me that Dr Sawad and I were spot on, at the Maldives’UPR in Geneva in November 2010, when we agreed to a moratorium on flogging. (Yet, just a year later, everyone in government, except President Nasheed, was running scared when Ms Navi Pillay suggested that people discuss a moratorium!)
    Thank you also Dr Usama for writing to the mullahs in the Maldives to educate them on maqasid-al-sharia. For far too long the so-called Islamic scholars in Maldives have been imposing their misogynist views on the people and claiming that sharia was about fear and flogging. All they have done is to repress women and defame sharia.
    When the Maldives acceded to ICCPR in September 2006, it did not enter a reservation to Article 7 or Article 17. Since Maldives is fully bound by Article 7 of ICCPR, it cannot carry out any punishment that amounts to torture, such as flogging. In fact, this is reinforced by Maldives’ commitments under CAT, which it also signed and ratified without any reservation. So the sooner our mullahs learn that there is no place for them to trumpet calls for amputation, flogging, crucifixion and stoning, the better.
    Right now, the police in the Maldives extend Article 17 rights only to the wealthy foreign tourists who visit in hundreds of thousands each year. But they practice an apartheid in regard to Article 17 rights! Maldivians and workers from the sub-continent are not extended Article 17 rights– the rights relating to privacy and protection of honour! Thus, an Arab sheikh or a European popstar can booze and party with Eastern European escorts (male or female) in any of our resorts without any intrusion or interruption by the police. It is after all their privacy. But authorities have no regard for the privacy of Maldivians– homes can be invaded, hotels can be ransacked, and minor girls can be arrested for improper hejab! And flogging can follow as a hadd or tazir or a judge’s pleasure!
    Perhaps the Quilliam Foundation can also educate our police that Article 17 of ICCPR is fully consistent with Islamic sharia and that there is no requirement under sharia to ferret out young people from their homes and march them into a flogging centre; and that morality police is not consistent with sharia. And as the statistics show, it is girls who get flogged!

    Such a shame that the UNDP funded new penal code of Maldives, drafted by an American university, also saw it fit to preserve flogging!

    It is now time to restore the moratorium on flogging, amputation and death penalty! Or would this subject be again deemed a vote-loser in an election year?

  5. Hogwash. No mention of sample size. I can get 9 out of 10 of my Dhivehistani friends to say they want to allow sodomy in these pure Arab islands (a 90 percent approval), but that doesn't mean I can extrapolate it to the whole of Dhivehistan. Stop your laadheenee lies Aavaz. Dhivehistan wants to flog fornicators, stone adulterers, drown homosexuals, amputate thieves, crucify traitors etc. Just ask Navi Pillay. She'll know.

  6. Minivan is really trying to undermine Islamic Values in the Maldives but i support this moratorium this instance as this child was sexually abused thus making her life promiscuous which lead to the flogging sentence(wonder how much Islamic values this child and her parents were aware of, probably none!)

    The Judges here are so out of date and corrupt that they put on the wrong sentence on a girl while they leave the big politicians like Nazim free of all corruption cases filed??!

    Minivan, good try on exaggerating this article by constantly saying words like "Horror" and blaming Waheed when he was the one politician who talked about this issue openly.

    For you the sentencing is the only horror while you keep away from talking about the abortions and killings of unborns in this country because some idiot wanted relief??

    You talk about Islamic laws failure when we only apply tiny bits of it and that also on the wrong instance?

    You talk about Tourists coming to Maldives when medieval rules are applied when these tourists come from countries where women are put into topless bars serving like slaves, dancing and fulfilling every perverts sexual desires just for a few bucks.

    And not only that, the women in these rich countries are so very much deceived by the men, that they either choose to become lesbians or single moms because in them their is never any trust of the men to be faithful and loyal!They are afraid to have children, afraid to get old.(look at all the inhumane surgeries and face lifts they have, it's a burden on them)

    The funny thing is that they have the option of becoming prostitutes when the govt gives up on them? What is so great about these countries who make prostitutes and single moms out of women who long for love and courtship for life??!!I just do not get it?

    Rape is an act which puts a permanent scar on the victim for life but giving inconsistent and lenient sentences for sex offenders is apparent in western countries! Just look at the recent handout of sentences to a teacher and a businessmen in the US??

    Human made laws are more inconsistent than anything??It defers from businessman to politician(who have money to take hold of better brushed lawyers) teacher to student, middle man to poor!??

  7. While this seems like good news, I'm afraid the poll itself was not conducted right. The people of Male and Addu have some things in common - their overwhelming support for MDP, much more likely to have higher education, much more likely to have travelled to or lived in other countries.

    One does not conduct a poll in New York and San Francisco and conclude that most Americans are liberal, support gay marriage and irreligious.

  8. @kd
    So one cannot be open-minded and follow the principles of Islam?

    So you have generalized that 1/5th of humanity is close-minded? Does that tell something about your education?

  9. Hell needs to freeze over first before sunni muslims will repeal any of their barbaric and medieval laws.
    Progress and modernity will only come to the Maldives when the Islamic Ministry is disbanded and the mad mullahs booted out.
    Hey, we Indians don't have a 'Hindu Ministry' yet we are democratic, secular, progressive with one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
    Carry on flogging morons..........

  10. Poll is bogus... although we want an end to unfair treatment to woman..

  11. Miss India. You should be ashamed of talking of human rights barbaric acts etc.

    Even now the current victims of recent storms in India are still unable to provide basis needs and yet you are tracking bullshits about Maldives.

    Even your media personnel used victims as a vehicles and used and jumped on the victim's back to move through the floods to report ? Yes you are speaking of human rights?

    How on earth, a reporter can climbed on to a flood victim back and get the victim to walk through the flood carrying the reporter ?

    Miss India, you should really keep you big mouth shut and when your country is really able to protect basic human rights, abolish forced child labor, eradicate the forced sex labor and avoid and eliminate the cast system, then you can come start even thinking of democracy and rights etc.

  12. "In Switzerland, you would not see a campaign designed to damage Swiss chocolate."

    This is how the filthy wannabe arabs see our mothers, sisters and daughters as. As 'a renewable, expendable resource'.

    Also, Shimy, you support state-sponsored rape and the criminalization of the rape victim, while you refuse to utter a word to condemn the rapists. Take your so-called fake mulla law and go back to Tora Bora and wait for the mushroom cloud.

    We shall undermine your saddoom system and jahil law from directions your eyes can not even perceive.

  13. Yes, all the data on the methodology of the survey should be published. It would be interesting to see the size and spread of the sample - a break-down on male/female informants, and if informants were selected by random or semi-random !
    At the same time the statement by the former deputy tourism minister is nonsense, i.e. "At the same time, recently dismissed Deputy Tourism Minister Dr Maleeh Jamal has called for “negative news to be minimised”, emphasising that “People should not be doing anything to damage the industry. In Switzerland, you would not see a campaign designed to damage Swiss chocolate.”
    This is wrong, and just untruly stating that the "rest of the world are as evil as we are..", a normal Maldivian response these days. There has been lots of campaigns in Western democracies against important local products and firms (Shell, Arla as well as Nestlé etc).
    If the former deputy minister enjoys seeing flogging, HE is the one should boycott Swiss chocolate!

  14. Miss India New Delhi.. I suggest you first clean your own back yard.. or should I say backside...? The rapes are infinite in India.. every day, so many women are raped... and you guys are so slow to respond to anything... Good old sooper pawa my a**

  15. @haim
    Clean your back yard! Can't Maldivians stop telling everyone "the others are as evil as we are..", and start looking at themselves!
    Civilised nations don't flog people, but it seems that a mirror looking-glass picture of the UNICEF still lingers with the present president (no serious comments ever from the Office of the President..) that only women and children should be condemned to flogging, while rapists should go free.

  16. @Nils, These Dhivehistani apologists don't know an important rule of debate: no logical fallacies. "Tu quoque" fallacy is a common tactic used by Dhivehistanis whenever their country or religion is criticised.

    Rape in Dhivehistan? India too!
    Drugs in Dhivehistan? Mexico too!
    DP in Dhivehistan? US too!
    Sex trafficking in Dhivehistan? Thailand too!

    Dhivehistanis don't realise that just because someone else does it does not make it right or make their argument invalid. There is a saying against such ad hominems: Ibilis bunyas thedheh vaanee thedhakashey (A fact is true even if the Devil says it)

  17. If one wants to live in third world stone/flogging age ? Fine, go to Afghan, Pak, Syria ... In fact all Muslim countries fit those requirements : underdeveloped, ruled by kings or other kind of despots, poverty, daily killings, no economical perspectives .... and of course not such western democracy thing. Our mullahs and sheikhs know what is best for us. Just obey and don't think from yourself.
    But I refuse to hand over MY country to such bunch. #Revolution.

  18. @ Ibrahim Mohamed

    You are one big ignorant fool!??

    Firstly, the underdeveloped Muslim nations that you are referring to is the one big reason why your developed countries run like they do. If the Muslim nations cut their relations with them they would have gone into oblivion, Kaput, ceased to exist considering the conditions they were in after the World wars.

    Even after the colonial Era where most of the richness of these lands were stolen, borders created, war sprung out, they still depend on the resources of these lands!Know why France is so eager to rule Mali and keep forces there! Know why they bring in terrorists and terrorism to the whole picture???

    As a matter of fact, the Muslims countries possess the richest resourceful regions of the world. They are joined geographically from Morocco to Indonesia, except for India and Israel. They occupy major sea, air and land trade routes. They produce almost 50% of the oil of the world. Nearly one third of the raw material of world is provided by them.

    Secondly, most of the Muslim nations are secularized by the west for their own gains as if the Muslims follow the Islamic way of governance and leadership, then definitely they will progress and outnumber the super powers because they will rule the law and not some Brit or American!

    The Western powers are a bunch of hypocrites who try to show the Sharia law as Barbaric and still lean on countries like Saudi Arabia(close relations with America and Briton) and Iran(close relations with Russia)who are(i think)the only two countries which follow the Sharia law as a rule.The kingdoms and dictatorship are falling, you'll see!

    And by the way stoning is mentioned in the Bible and not the Quran, do some research will ya?!There are countries like Sudan where war is rampant and some mullahs apply this rule in the name of Sharia to uphold their authority!

    All in all, who will gain from all these wars in Muslim lands?!Certainly not Muslims but war is for a reason! The World wars were fought which brought peace to the European nations.

  19. All you dumb ignorant fools do not understand a cinch of what is happening around the world but blame Islam for everything.

    Islamic Development Bank published a report which says that in 1996 the total external debt of its member countries was 618.8 billion dollars, while the Muslims assets in the western banks were estimated around 800 to 1000 billion dollars. It means that the loans which Muslim countries take from the west are, actually, their own money. They borrow it and, then, return with multiple interest.

    See the way poor Muslim lands are impoverished by the bankers of IMF and World bank!This is why they have Impunity. No matter what they do we cannot question them!

    This is why they keep Muslim lands uneducated and like slaves because if Muslims knew of their god given resources they will surely rise!The west choose a leader of their own interest so they can keep the oil pumping and resources extracting.

    Know what happened in Algeria in 1992 when the Islamic party was on the brink of democratically being elected? What did France gain from this?!

    You people are dumb as monkeys and will never know anything other than insulting Islam??

  20. When you believe Sharia is a masterpiece of lord of the universe, and that lord is such vengeful and threatening, how on earth you can disregard his orders. The God of sharia is very clear, he knows best for his creation so he created shaithan to deceive his slaves and then created Hell to punish his slaves and again sent Jibril as his mouthpiece to dictate set of laws to punish them here on earth for the crimes this lord could have stopped on the first place by not creating Shaithan.

    What you can expect from dimwit people who really think this is the plan of Lord of the universe; a lord who seems is out of control and has all the characteristics of homicidal maniac.

  21. Fisherman, you're throwing pearls before swine. The KoolAid group won't get a word.

  22. Nil and Missindia.

    You don't tell us what we should do until you clean your back yard ?

    If you have the right to tell us what and criticize then we also have the same rights?

    What a bull shit you are talking about ?

    India has the highest number of forced child labor in the world, indian has the most inhuman cast system in the work, forced sex trade is highest in India.

    We do not use flood victims as vehicle to walk through the floods to report ? But in India this is happening and human are used as slaves ?

  23. @shimy - don't forget that it's the kafir's invention that made the Middle East rich. Without the engine the precious oil they depend on would be useless. I long for the day of renewable energy. Anyway, if the west is so evil, and if non-believers are so evil, get off their inventions. Get off the Internet, get off your phone, your motorbike etc. don't

  24. @jabirthehutt,

    This is your reaction, kekeke, get off the things you hate. OK, I call all the Kafirs to get off Muslim lands and resources but i doubt that would happen with all the profits they make? The day this happens some new terrorist will strike like Tim Osman and the lands will be invaded??

    Why should i get off the Kafirs invention when we Muslims were a part of the first inventions.Why should i get off when the whole of the materials that is used to assemble a PC comes from Muslim lands let alone the power to run it?And you dimbulbs do not know most of the things that we use in the Maldives comes from Asia; China, India, Malaysia etc

    I doubted the fabrication of bringing peace to earth first hand from the invention of nuclear bombs,chemical weapons,guns, hellfire missiles from drones etc. so much for peace on land, savvy, No!!?

  25. Now the other question is how come these hypocrites only talk of the flogging and death penalty part of the Sharia Law and nobody talks about the governance,trade,banking,relations,providing alms to the poor part. Certainly there is the goal of deceiving here??!

    @fishermn Kafir

    We give the death penalty to criminals and flog the sex offenders and rapists. How come this is taken so negatively? hell, your evolved beings of America is trying to criminalize Edward Snowden just for telling the truth! Tell me this isn't a joke on loyalty and honour!

    And as you are so hung up on God,how come the entire Universe follow the same old rules without disruptions.How come the sun perform it's task the same old way just as before??How come your theory of accidental beginnings never apply to them?? The only creatures that never stick to a rule are humans and this was definitely mentioned in the book that i believe in!!
    Accidental beginnings and evolving from apes, which means we have ape dumb brains, LOL get a grip will ya!??

  26. Here, the western peace loving rich tycoons are now trying to capitalize from water> i bet he views water as his own property, the ignorant fool!

    Nestle CEO: Water Is Not A Human Right, Should Be Privatized

    Read more:

  27. @kuribee
    I am not writing about India or Islam, I am writing about the Maldives.
    If you feel a need to attack what I write, and no one will deny you that right, then you should keep to the subject..
    I am sure that I knew the Maldives before you were born, and I am sure that I have travelled wider in the Islands than you have; so to quite a degree the Maldives are also my back yard.

  28. what is the flogging thing all about. maldives is country where extramarital sex is norm.

  29. @sheez,

    Yeah, sometimes wonder whats the use of all this arguing when something is the norm.

    Well, then drugs are a norm- make it legal like in Canada and America
    prostitution is norm- make it legal

    gang violence is the norm-make it legal

    stealing and robbery is norm-make it legal

    Making extra marital sex a norm has lead our country to the brink of all these diseases inside us.We do not respect any relationship now, we do not respect women now.We misuse freedom!

  30. @shimy
    "we do not respect women now. We misuse freedom!"
    - Shimy's "we" seems to be all male and criminal..


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