Minister of State for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed has challenged President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik over his stated attempts to review the flogging sentence given to a 15 year-old rape victim by the Juvenile Court, for an unrelated case of fornication.
The criticism follows a tweet by President Waheed in which he stated that he would push to review the Juvenile Court’s sentence of 100 lashes and eight months’ house arrest against the minor.
Mohamed, who is also the Vice President of the Civil Society Coalition, told local media that it was “not acceptable” that the country’s president was making remarks against a penalty proscribed in Islam and called for Waheed to repent.
The case has attracted widespread criticism from the international community, with Amnesty International launching a petition demanding the government repeal the sentence.
The Maldivian government – which is currently vying for re-election to the UN Human Rights Council, launched its campaign in Geneva on February 28 on a platform of “women and children’s rights and the rights of persons with disability” – has expressed “deep concern” at the decision to prosecute the girl.
“Though the flogging will be deferred until the girl turns 18, the government believes she is the victim of sexual abuse and should be treated as such by the state and the society and therefore, her rights should be fully protected,” said the President’s Office in a statement.
“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 added.
State Minister Abdulla’s comments echo similar sentiments made by the religious-conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), which issued a statement declaring that the girl “deserves the punishment” under Islamic Sharia law.
Local media reported Mohamed as saying he intended to meet with President Waheed in order to ask him to publicly apologise for his comments.
Mohamed further stated that the girl – who had also been raped by her stepfather – should be punished for committing and confessing to the sin of fornication, and that this penalty must not be challenged, local media reported.