The hearing of a 15 year-old girl charged with having “consensual sexual relations” was cancelled on Wednesday (January 23) following a request from the Prosecutor General (PG).
Juvenile Court Official told local media that the PG wanted to cancel the hearing as “charges had been raised against an individual for engaging in sexual activity with an underage person while holding a trustworthy position”, local media reported.
The hearing – to take place in Juvenile Court – had been cancelled in order for the PG to see if there was any reason to withdraw the fornication charges against the girl.
According to local media, the letter sent by the PG to Juvenile Court requesting the cancellation of the hearing did not mention who the “trustworthy” person was.
Earlier this month, a PG’s Office spokesperson confirmed that the charges against the minor were related to a separate offence under Sharia Law, which had been filed on November 25, 2012.
The 15 year-old, who is from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, last year gave birth to a baby that was discovered buried in the outdoor shower area of a home on Feydhoo. Her stepfather was later charged with sexual abuse, possession of pornographic materials and committing murder without intent.
According to local media, the mother is now facing charges of concealing a crime.
The PG’s Office and the Juvenile Court were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
The charges against the 15 year-old have been labelled an “absolute outrage” by NGO Amnesty International.
In a statement Amnesty International’s Maldives Researcher Abbas Faiz stressed that suspected victims of rape and sexual abuse required counselling and support rather than criminal prosecution.
“We urge the Maldivian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the girl, ensure her safety and provide her with all necessary support,” the NGO’s statement read.
Amnesty Intentional also raised concerns that should the minor be found guilty of “fornication” as reported in the media, she could potentially be flogged in line with sentencing for similar cases held in the country.
“If found guilty of ‘fornication’ the girl could be punished with flogging. She would likely be kept under house arrest until she turns 18 when, under Maldivian law, the flogging can be carried out. Flogging is a violation of the absolute prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment,” Amnesty International stated.