Flogging of 15 year-old “tip of the iceberg” of Maldives’ treatment of sex offences: Amnesty’s South Asia Director

The high-profile case of a 15 year-old girl sentenced to flogging in the Maldives after confessing to having had consensual sex is the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of the country’s treatment of victims of sexual offences, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott has said.

Following a nine day visit to the country, Truscot told Minivan News that other sexual abuse victims were believed to have had suffered similar treatment under the law as a result of systematic institutional failures.

“Right now, all departments charged with the girl’s welfare are finger pointing and passing the blame,” she said. “But we have met others incarcerated in the country in similar circumstances to this girl.”

“Tip of the iceberg”

Truscott said she had identified serious concerns during her visit as to how young girls and other victims of sexual assault were being treated by authorities.

Truscott raised particular concern over the case of the 15 year-old charged with fornication, after she reportedly admitted to authorities of having “consensual sex” with an unidentified man during investigations into her alleged sexual abuse by her stepfather.

“When this alleged crime was committed, Amnesty was approached by many people asking us to look into the matter. We believes she should not be punished for sexual offences. It is questionable if the girl was also aware as to what she was consenting to,” she said.

Truscott claimed that officials involved in the girl’s care – from the law enforcement team who questioned her, to child protection authorities – had “all failed” in their duties to protect the 15 year-old.

The girl’s case has garnered international attention over the last few months, with over two million people signing a petition on the Avaaz website pledging to target the Maldives’ lucrative tourism industry in order to pressure authorities to drop the charges against the 15 year-old and pursue wider legal reforms to prevent similar cases.

Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal last month slammed what he called the“dubious” motivations behind the petition, alleging the campaign to be “politically motivated”.  He also noted that the Waheed administration had already appealed the case and also pledged to oversee legal reforms.

Truscott said the NGO also remained “disappointed” over a lack of progress by Maldivian authorities in addressing a lack of accountability in punishing the perpetrators of high-profile attacks on media personnel, as well as allegations of excessive police force.

Despite welcoming progress in areas such as allowing for greater media freedoms “over the last 10 years”, she yesterday (April 24) told Minivan News that the NGO continued to hold concerns over the state’s commitment to addressing several human rights issues.

At the conclusion her visit, Truscott said the NGO also held significant concerns regarding judicial independence, as well as wider institutional failures to protect rape victims.

“Enormous progress”: government

Following a meeting between Truscott and President Dr Mohamed Waheed on Wednesday, the government issued a press release stating: “Regional Director Prescott noted the enormous progress made by the Maldives in the fields of human rights, and freedom of assembly and speech.”

Truscott told Minivan News she had raised concerns during her meeting with President Waheed that not enough progress had been made to investigate allegations of “excessive force” by police officers against members of the public following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

“I understand that a few cases have been brought forward by prosecutors, but after a year, this [amount of cases] is disappointing. I had also pressed upon the president the need to bring perpetrators to justice. There is important progress to be made here,” she said.

Media freedom

Addressing the government’s official statement on Amnesty’s findings, Truscott said the NGO believed progress had been made in some areas such as media freedom over the last 10 years.

However, she noted serious attacks over the last 12  months on media such as blogger Hillath Rasheed and reporter Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed. Both men underwent life-saving surgery after being the victims of separate violent attacks in the capital over the last 12 months.

Amnesty International also pointed to concerns over the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali. Truscott said the country was yet to see any meaningful investigations into ensuring justice for the victims of the attacks.

The courts are currently hearing the cases of several suspects charged in connection to Dr Afrasheem’s murder.  Suspects have also been questioned over Aswad’s attack.

However, suspects have yet to have been charged over the attack on blogger Hilath Rasheed in July 2012, when a group of alleged Islamic radicals slashed the throat of the blogger who had been campaigning for religious tolerance.

Rasheed narrowly survived the attack and has since fled the country.

“From having walked the streets here in Male’ I have seen [security] cameras about. But action seems to have been limited,” Truscott said of the case.

Penal code

Legal reforms were another area of concern raised by Amnesty International following its Maldives visit.  Particular attention was drawn to reviews for an amended Penal Code within the country that would allow for the prosecution of offences not presently accounted for.

While at the same time addressing the government’s stated pledges to review the use of punishments such as flogging, Truscott warned against what she called a “move backwards” over the Maldives’ commitments against the use of the death penalty.

“Obviously, Amnesty International is completely against the death penalty,” she said.

Truscott claimed that the recent drafting of any new bills outlining implementation for executions, even in practice, was deemed as a human rights violation.  She said there was no research concluding that executing criminals served as an effective deterrent for serious crimes.

Truscott added that with the draft Penal Code also including provisions that would leave applying the death sentence to the discretion of an individual judge, the whole purpose of codifying laws would be undermined should the bill be passed.

She noted this was a particular concern when considering the recent findings of various international experts such as  UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Judiciary, Gabriela Knaul over the politicised nature of the country’s judicial system.

“To leave Sharia law to the discretion of individual judges is something we believe would be a bad idea,” she added.

Visit purpose

Truscott said that Amnesty International’s main purpose during its visit had been to meet with key state officials as well as other stakeholders.

She noted that while having met with senior officials such as the president and Gender Minister, the NGO had not been able to arrange discussions with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz or Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed during the visit.

Dr Jameel told Minivan News today that he had been busy at the time of Amnesty International’s request to meet, but had since requested his office to follow up and try and set up talks.

Police Spokesperson Chef Inspector Hassan Haneef was seeking clarification as to whether Commissioner Riyaz had received a request to meet the NGO at time of press.

Amnesty criticism

In September last year, Home Minister Jameel criticised Amnesty International in local media for failing to seek comment from the government when compiling a previous report on the country entitled: “The other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”.

“They had not sought any comments from the Maldives government. I’m extremely disappointed that a group advocating for fairness and equal treatment had released a report based on just one side of the story,” Jameel told newspaper Haveeru at the time.

Meanwhile, just last month, Human Rights Ambassador of the President’s Office “Sandhaanu” Ahmed Ibrahim Didi accused Amnesty International of “fabricating stories about the human rights situation in the Maldives” and of releasing reports about the Maldives without conducting any studies.

Truscott’s comments were made as preliminary observations following her research visit to the Maldives that commenced April 16.  The NGO has said it will be releasing an official statement on its findings later today.


28 thoughts on “Flogging of 15 year-old “tip of the iceberg” of Maldives’ treatment of sex offences: Amnesty’s South Asia Director”

  1. "We believe no one should be punished for sexual offences..."

    You might want to clarify that point.

  2. Not just "fornication" but homosexuality is also punishable with 30 lashes and a 3 year jail term. Despite having signed UN treaties which guarantee privacy, the backward Shariah law continues to dictate bedroom behavior of consenting adults while child marriage/rape and abuse are a small matter. Their excuse? Maldivian culture. LOL. More like Arab superstition.

    While lawmakers like Kutti compares consensual adult sex with rape and abuse, mullah Shaheem goes around drinking Bonaqua, judges are enacting sex scenes in court and MPs talk about Sodom and Gomorrah in the Parliament. And on top of that we have fools like Jameel and that Sandhaanu Ahammaidhee. These two clowns are worth 10 mullahs each.

  3. A culture that allows the rape and exploitation of children has no right to exist, and becomes 'life unworthy of life'.

  4. We keep coming back to this religion being used to govern thing don't we. Why can't they be separate.

    Infuriating that one group of people is forcing their religious beliefs upon everyone. Ridiculous.

  5. @Stop dragging us down
    actually what is happening is that Minivan has an agenda. The agenda is to write an islamophobic article every other day just to keep the google rating high. The above said girl has not been flogged. Nor is it even likely she will ever be flogged. The govt is vehemently trying everything it can to get her case thrown out of the courts. But why are still media still bleating about this?

  6. Flogging according Islamic sariyya and low.

    The book holly Qur'an is written Arabic for people who understand Arabic.Does she understand Arabic? No.

    A Person commit a sin with out knowing will not be count means he or she cannot be Punished.

    This book is not meant to be force to believe. but only for those who believe.

    The constitution and low is against Islam it forces Maldivian and its against Islam.

    The Qur'an never meant that been a Maldivian he or she has to be a Muslim. 99% of the Maldivian does not understand Arabic and the meaning of Arabic in Maldives

    She is been brought up with sexual forcing by her Mother and her step father. Did the Judge found out what she is been thought and how much Islam she know.

    A sin with out knowing is not sin that can be flogged.(Follow Islam in Maldives is better than flogging rape child)

  7. When I read this article it looks like that this country support rapping sexual harassment child sex etc. And even every Maldivian women is a victim. What a biased article .

    Even this lady truscutt wording had forgotten or erased the three years in our history between 2009 and 2011 and they are either blind or they don't exist to see what had happened during that period

    Death penalty is given even in America too

  8. @human being on Fri, 26th Apr 2013 7:26 AM

    This is about the curse of a cult that we have in Mordis, and it is not only about this girl and the imminent flogging.

    This is about the inequality, racism, abuse that's rampant in the country.

    1: girls get half the share of inheritance. Whenever the inheritance is sliced, the men drools into as saviours for the whole family. When asked for help every damn one of these guys just vanish. Women are left alone to fend for themselves.

    2: the 6y old was molested a week back. According to the perpetrator, why not? His prophet did it.

    3: whenever the parliamentarians try to introduce decency into the laws, the child-molester Seyku ilyas goes nuts, simply because he cannot have a sex life.

    4: a queue at the airport, ATM machine, a bank is not relevant for the bearded donkeys, as they have every right to bypass any women or girls in the queue.

    5: girls do need education. The bedouins don't want any of that. Simply because they can't whip and dominate over educated women.

    6: babies need vaccine. Not for these dumbos. They ask God to help when the baby gets sick.

    7: The judiciary is the worst of the worst in the country.

  9. Is it me or does Andrew Andreas have a very high IQ (with honours)? Plagiarism on cash delivery for the rest of us aiight.

    Could this possibly y have to do with our sewer-rat upbringing (with all the fights with single parent), and not wanting to study actually or go for higher studies even- that we just don't get this? And even search 'filth' on minivannews anyway.

    And the problem (be very careful fools) is that we so easily find fault in others n evrything- never to think that we with our self-professed knowledge about evrything (roanu-edhuru?), we must be ideally placed to find fault in every system? This confusion of self-inadequecy n the time-fabric fault of the universe that we were not born into scandenavia, n instead to maldives- tat we find unable to reconcile?

    I just want what is best for my country. pls. pls.

  10. 1 in every 4 adults today is a victim of sexual abuse as a child. child Sexual abuse is still rampant both in the capital city as well as the local inhabited islands. Most cases go unreported and unidentified because the abuser is often a friend of family or a member of immediate family. Perpetrators roam free on islands. yet, the legal system in maldives is unable to successfully put perpetrators behind bars and on a different path. institutions are not set up to address the psychological traumas of victims. these result in systematic failure of the potential of our youth, leaving them to cope with difficult situations on their own. government has to step up on this issue. it is already too late.

  11. OMG. I am a NON-MUSLIM Expat living in the Maldives for the past 20 years. It is incredible how everybody is trying to put down Maldives, Maldivians and their way of life. In every part of the world, there are people with extreme views - For eg: Rednecks in USA, extreme right wingers in Europe. This does not mean in any way that the whole country is bad. As somebody has highlighted, there are a MAJORITY of maldivians who do not want the flogging to happen and I believe it will NOT happen. For heaven's sake, stop publishing such BIASED reporting , showcasing certain people's vested interests in BRINGING down the reputation of Maldives.

    Just for selfish , absolutely SHORT TERM thinking, self-centred people are just trying to bring down the country, its economy, its tourism and its people. Nobody is thinking about the long term impact such crazy media reporting and branding will lead to...

    Shocking and absolutely immature...

  12. @masood1q

    " Most cases go unreported and unidentified...". I wonder, or is it more truer to say there is a 25% di-linear regression on this claim. Certainly the geometric progression on the increasing incidence is greater or more approximate in Western Societies. And is it 'reporting' thats everything??? Thats enough eh?....

    We are looking into this gents n ladies. However with an overt inflationary (or diflationary) budget we hav difficulties. Thank the WB for that. We do have a covert budget also, that's for other reasons.

  13. This NGO has hidden agenda and they retrying to promote something else here in this country.

    This lady is a strong supporter of Nasheed and Nasheed had promised them that he will give a religious freedom in the country provided these kind of people help him to win the election.

  14. From an early age, the beautiful, gentle, naturally compassionate soul of the Dhivehin is being gripped in an iron embrace of tyranny. The courage to love, the fire of love itself, is being squeezed out of the soul, our hearts are being shrunk!

    The tyrants who do this are crushing the beautiful hearts of the Dhivehin, and when there is no heart, there is only fear, cynicism, suspicion, hate, jealousy, depression.

    You buggers are destroying the soul of the nation!

    Oh Lord, please save us from becoming completely empty, bitter, twisted, cynical, suspicious, alienated.

    Our pain often becomes rage. When the rage subsides, only sadness remains, or, even worse, numbness, depression.

    An empty soul, empty of any sense of the sanctity of humanity, robbed of compassion, seeks violent means to attain the bliss normally associated with intimacy.

    These abusers are burning, exploding with volcanic lust to inflict pain. They need to be locked up, our Children and Women need to be protected. Waheed needs to get tough on these buggers, and stop hiding the abuse cases behind the impotent liberal facade he presents to the world as his Government.

    It is a vicious circle, which can only be ended by true love, love capable of sacrifice.

  15. @ Kuribee

    Your imagination is running riot and your delusions are out of control. Seek help before you end up in Guraidhoo

  16. @ahme

    the world would be a better place without people(humans)!because everyman's opinion and belief is his religion! We have to stop people's thoughts to stop them from searching for the truth or the ultimate reality.
    and reading the comments here we see how lustful the society has become?y?cox the perpetrators are not been punished in a suitable manner and the paradox is the international organisations are fighting to to make sexual offenses nonpunishable.where do we draw the line?In the great democracies like india and the US rape is as daily a phenomenon as the sun rising everyday.

  17. I am not the one who need mental care and people who have no ability to digest the criticism about Nasheed are the people will have to seek the consultation.

    We will see who is going to win the election and then will see who is in a delusive world

  18. Describing your political opponents as being "In need of mental care" or 'autistic" exposes you as being a cruel, heartless, inhumane or a completely ignorant person. Such language degrades those who genuinely do need mental care by implying that the mentally ill are either stupid or bad people. This is a very cruel and sad degradation. The genuinely mentally ill are normally people whose minds are too beautiful to cope with the stresses of normal every day life, they are not stupid or bad people at all. They are normally TOO sensitive and intelligent for this world. They are people who need a lot of love, compassion and care, not degradation, judgement and abuse. If they are cared for properly, they can give you something beautiful, intelligent, and creative, and it is sad for you that you rob yourself of the treasure their beautiful mind has to offer through your barbaric cruelty, or ignorance.

    If you had a mentally ill child yourself, or if you had experienced mental illness yourself, and had to deal with the affliction, the abuse, the rejection, the degradation born from cruelty and ignorance, you would be wounded to hear the way potential leaders speak about the mentally ill or the autistic. Such a so called leader is no leader, and with such a callous heart and ignorant mind, such a leader could only hurt people, and MUST NOT BE ALLOWED to be given the chance to be a President or else MANY PEOPLE would be deeply wounded for many different reasons.

    BUT for you, Kuribee, (the person who made the above comment which provoked this strong reaction), I trust that you are a not a bad or a stupid person. Obviously you are not aware of the information I have just shared with you. But being an intelligent and caring person, I know that from now on you will not degrade yourself by degrading the sick like this. In this instance, it is not your fault, but now that you know, you will do better.

    Minivan I am sorry that this comment was off the topic. But I had to deal with the attitude reflected in that above comment, because it is an attitude which is evil and is seen even in the most powerful people in the country. It just so happens it was on this article that I saw the comment, so it was here on this article I had to address it.

    Thankyou kindly for understanding.

  19. @Kuribee

    You said "This NGO has hidden agenda and they retrying to promote something else here in this country.
    This lady is a strong supporter of Nasheed and Nasheed had promised them that he will give a religious freedom in the country provided these kind of people help him to win the election."

    So this agenda is freedom of religion? That is not a hidden agenda by any means and everyone knows that freedom of religion is something Amnesty seeks. And of course she will support a candidate which can help the organisations humanist agenda.

    Also, are you saying you are against freedom of religion? If so please explain why. Why am I not free to follow any religion I want? What if I chose non of them?

    Now think if you were born in a country which didn't have freedom of religion and was a 100% christian country. And you came to read the Quran in a library and believed in it. How would you feel if you couldn't pray? Couldn't buy one to keep in your home. What if they found out and threw you in jail? Would you be mad?

  20. Kuribee is just vomitting the mullah rhetoric that has been fed to him. To them, freedom of religion goes one way. Last week Maldivian Islamists were cheering when a Dutch politician converted to Islam. But if a Maldivian Muslim leaves Islam, it's "Off with his head!" People like Kuribee won't see Fidha Waheed talking about Kali Ma or Maumoon saying Maldivians should have religious freedom or Muhammad guaranteeing freedom of religion in the Madina Constitution.

  21. Who let Kuribee out of the asylum?.....it will be better for all Maldivians if this retard is kept locked up. He displays all the symptoms of someone who has spent his entire life in a backward and intolerant country.
    Something for you dumb islanders to ponder about:
    Eid in HINDU MAJORITY India is a national holiday.
    India, a HINDU MAJORITY COUNTRY, gives Haj subsidies to its muslim minorities.
    Mosques in HINDU MAJORITY India have no restrictions on entry unlike in Pakistan.....home of your sunni brothers.....where heavy security is deployed to protect places of worship from fellow muslims.
    Goodness Gracious!!....and once you have established your utopian Islamic caliphate in the Maldives based on the principles of sharia law.....you will be even more backward than you already are.
    Now you know why I refer to you morons as Neanderthals!!
    We Indians have so much to teach you about freedom, equality and secularism.

  22. With reference to the post that the media should stop bleating on about Islam ... Islamistist do theme selves only harm by saying any attack on what happens in an Islsmist country is Islamphobia . If you don't like the bleating don't have a social code where children are lashed
    And sexually abused . Clean up your house and the bleating will stop . And stop considering you are on a higher moral plane than all other religions and are beyond criticism . There are hundreds of religions around . How come you are right and the others are wrong . A faith that has to torture and abuse its followers and murder its opponents is based on fear not conviction


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