HRCM to discuss case of minor sentenced to 100 lashes for fornication

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has said it would on Tuesday discuss the case of a 16 year-old girl who was on Sunday sentenced to house arrest and 100 lashes for fornication with a 29 year-old man, confirmed Vice President Ahmed Tholal.

Permanent Magistrate of Raa Atoll Hulhudhuhfaaru, Magistrate Abdul Samad Abdulla, sentenced the girl to eight months under house arrest, and for public flogging once she reaches the age of 18.

Meanwhile the man, who has been identified as Ahmed Rasheed, Finivaage, R. Angolhitheemu, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail on charges of sexual assault on a minor.

The sentencing has attracted international media attention and appeared in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.

President of the Hulhudhuhfaaru Island Council, Mohamed Zubair, told Minivan News today that the crime had occurred approximately two months ago. He said that the matter had been filed in court by the girl’s family.

Zubair said that although the girl was of school-age, she had stopped attending classes months ago.

An official of the Hulhudhuhfaaru Magistrate Court, Ali Rashid, spoke in length to Minivan News about the case on Tuesday.

“The girl has been sentenced to eight months house arrest. The charges for an adult who has committed fornication is a year’s house arrest, but since she is a minor, she can only be given two thirds of the regular sentence,” he explained.

Rashid said that the girl had been sentenced for fornication because she had confessed to it. The man, however, had denied the charges.

“The man said he hadn’t committed fornication, but he admitted to having hugged and done certain other things with the girl. This amounts to sexual assault of a minor under the law. That’s why he has got the minimum sentence possible under the relevant law, 10 years in jail,” Rashid explained.

The Magistrate Court confirmed that the man was now being kept in custody by relevant authorities.

The official of the Hulhudhuhfaaru Magistrate Court referred Minivan News to Article 25 of the act detailing special actions to be taken in cases of sexual offences against children (Act number: 12/2009).

Article 25 says: “Unless proven otherwise, it cannot be considered that a child between ages 13-18 had given consent to committing a sexual act. And unless proven otherwise, it will be considered that the sexual act was committed without the child’s consent.”

As the case now stands, two contradicting sentences have been given to persons involved in the same case.

While, as per the magistrate court, the man has been convicted of sexual assault, which translates into an act committed without the consent of the girl, the girl herself has been sentenced on the charges of having consensual sex outside of wedlock.

Private lawyer Mohamed Shafaz Wajeeh, agreed with this observation.

“I agree that there is a strong contradiction here. Also, the man has been sentenced under common law. The act he committed is criminalised under the existing laws, those drafted and passed through the parliament. The girl, on the other hand, has been sentenced under Sharia law, which is not specifically written down. There is a discrepancy in how men and women are sentenced. At times females face more difficulty denying charges of fornication. This, I believe is a structural issue which needs to be addressed.”

An official of the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, said that the ministry would not speak about specific cases.

Refusing to identify herself, she said, “If the girl has been sentenced for a crime, it’s either the court or JJU (Juvenile Justice Unit) that needs to be concerned. 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.”

Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights, Dhiyana Saeed, was not responding to calls at the time of press.

In November 2011, UN HIgh Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, speaking in parliament, raised concerns about the issue of flogging in the Maldives.

Speaking on the issue, Pillay said, “This 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 statements and calls for discussion on the issue were met with outrage from the opposition and religious Adhaalath party, giving rise to protests and demonstrations. The Foreign Ministry itself 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.”


Court sentences 16 year old girl to 100 lashes for having sex with 29 year-old

A 16 year-old girl has been sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months house arrest by Hulhudhufaaru Magistrate Court in Raa Atoll, for fornication.

The court also sentenced a 29 year-old man to 10 years imprisonment, after the court found him guilty of having sex with the girl.

As she is a legally a minor, the court stated that the girl’s sentence would be implemented when she turned 18.

An official from the told the local media that the man travelled to the island after the girl invited him. The the girl’s family noticed that she was not at home and went looking for her, the official said.

The pair were found that night in some bushes behind the island’s power house, he added.

The court official said the the girl’s family pressed charges, which were denied by the man. However the girl confessed, local press reported.

The Hulhudhufaaru Court identified the 29 year-old as Ahmed Rasheed of Angolhitheemu Island in Raa Atoll.

The man was sentenced under article 3[a][c] of the Child Sex Abuse [Special Provisions] Act which states that if a person touches a minor with the intention of having sex, then it is a punishable crime. A person found guilty of such a crime can be sentenced to a term of 10-14 years in prison.

According to statistics revealed by the Gender Department in April this year, between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported from atoll family and children service centres. 1,005 of these cases involved minors while 133 of these cases involved victims aged older than 18.

Approximately one third of the 81 cases involving children less than one year involved neglect. Sexual abuse was reported in a quarter of the 192 cases for age group one to five, and in a fifth of the 230 cases age group five to 10.


Police recover electronics stolen from Irin Enterprises offices

Police have recovered a laptop and other electronic items stolen from Irin Enterprises Office and returned them to the owner.

Police said the items were discovered inside the house of a minor, already in police custody, following a police search of his house.

The minor was arrested on April 23 for alleged involvement in a different case, police said.

A police investigation revealed that another minor involved in the robbery of Irin Enterprises was also in police custody, arrested in connection with a different case on April 25.

According to statistics released to the media by the Home Ministry’s Juvenile Justice Unit, 155 offences committed by minors have been filed this year.

Most of the cases involving male juveniles were related to drugs, theft, sex, assault and vandalism, while most of the cases concerning females related to alcohol, creating unrest in an unlawful gathering, and theft, according to the Juvenile Justice Unit.

The unit also noted that 68 percent of minors who committed felonies are children who do not attend to school. The most number of crimes were committed by children between the ages of 16-18.

Factors leading to the involvement of children in criminal activities included the “negative influence of the media”, adults luring them into a criminal environment, and having parents who were criminals, the report noted. and

According to police statistics for the month of May, 58 cases of theft, five cases of robbery, five cases of assault and 18 cases of drugs have been reported.


Man who raped mother receives 16 years’ prison, 39 lashes

Kolamaafushi Court in Gaafu Alifu Atoll has sentenced a man to  39 lashes and 16 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping his mother, in the presence of a minor.

According to police, 31 year-old Abdulla Nizam was sentenced to six years imprisonment and 39 lashes for the rape of an “unmarriageable” person, and a further 10 years imprisonment for having sex in the presence of a minor.

The latter charge is a criminal offence under the Child Sex Abuse Special Provisions Act.

The investigation of the rape was concluded and sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office in April 2010, while the  investigation into the presence of the minor was was concluded in September the same year.

The case was investigated by the Villingili Police Station based on the island of Villingili in Gaa Alifu Atoll.

In October last year, police arrested a 26 year-old man for allegedly sexually assaulting his 62 year-old grandmother on the island of Hithadhoo of Addu City.

Local media Haveeru reported that time that the 26 year-old man was a grandson of the woman, who was half-paralysed.

In April 2011, a 19 year-old man was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 74 year-old elderly woman on the same island.