A fifteen year old Muslim girl has been sentenced to 100 lashes and 8 months of house arrest in the Maldives, a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean. The girl is an alleged victim of sexual abuse by her stepfather, an act which is not considered to be legally related to this case, according to Hilary Whiteman of CNN. The investigation was initiated when a dead baby was discovered. According to Amnesty International sources close to where the sexual abuse took place, when authorities questioned the girl, she confessed to having premarital sex.
The international community has expressed concern over the use of Sharia Law to inflict such punishment, even against a minor child. Masood Imad, speaking for the President’s Office has condemned the sentence, but downplays the physical effects of a lashing. He said it is merely “ceremonial” and that the lashings are “relatively light” and not especially painful. “They just pretend she’s been lashed. It’s not a painful process. She is taken to one side and she is patted on her backside with this lashing. It’s not used hard. It’s just a token, a token exercise. It’s a belief,” Imad said. The girl has been given the choice of receiving the lashings now, or waiting until she turns 18.
Imad told CNN that the government considers the teenager to be a victim who should not be flogged, but they are not able to change the judge’s ruling or interfere in the judicial process. “We have to talk with them [the judges], get them to understand, get them to initiate the laws or we initiate the laws together and then pass it to the legislature.” Imad says the Ministry of Gender and Family is working with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to encourage the justice department to change the laws.
Amnesty International researcher, Abbas Faiz, told CNN that the Maldives government isn’t working hard enough to change the laws. “It is for the government to actually initiate a change and send a bill to parliament and then if at that level they don’t win, they can say we tried. But they haven’t at this stage even tried. They are not interested, they don’t show any interest in this. Every time we talk about the judicial flaws that exist in the judicial system of the country they say we have nothing to do with that because we’re separate from the judiciary. Of course you’re separate to the judiciary, but you’re the government,” Faiz said.
In the Maldives, it is forbidden for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.
What you can do:
Pray for the government of the Maldives.
Pray for the judiciary of the Maldives.
Pray for the people of the Maldives.