A 15-year-old rape victim from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll was convicted of premarital sex at the Juvenile Court today and sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest.
In June 2012, the girl gave birth to a baby that was discovered buried in the outdoor shower area of her home. Her stepfather was later charged with child sexual abuse, possession of pornographic materials and committing premeditated murder.
Her mother was meanwhile charged with concealing a crime and failing to report child sexual abuse to the authorities.
An official from the Prosecutor General (PG)’s office told Minivan News in January this year that the fornication charges against the minor were related to a separate offence of premarital sex that emerged during the police investigation. The charges were filed on November 25, 2012.
In its verdict delivered today, the Juvenile Court ordered the state to transfer the girl to the Children’s Home in Villigili to enforce the sentence of eight months house arrest, according to local media reports.
The girl reportedly confessed at the trial to having consensual premarital sex.
The Islamic Shariah punishment of flogging would be administered when the girl turns 18. However, the sentence could be implemented earlier should the minor request expedition, a court official explained to local media.
In late January, the PG’s Office told Minivan News that it was reviewing the decision to press charges against the minor. Two hearings at the Juvenile Court were subsequently cancelled upon request by the PG.
However, the trial resumed after the PG decided earlier this month not to withdraw the charges.
Officials from the PG were unavailable today to clarify whether the male offender faced the same charge of premarital sex.
The case of the 15 year-old had prompted concern from the executive following international media coverage. The government announced last month that it would review and “correct” laws that victimise young women and minors who have suffered sexual abuse.
President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad told Minivan News that from government’s perspective, the 15 year-old girl was a victim who needed to be protected, not punished by authorities.
“We will be talking with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs over this manner and will review and correct the problem,” he said.
Masood said that the Maldives had experienced a number of similar cases of late where young women had been victimised and punished by authorities – a situation he said the government was looking to prevent.
“We are reviewing this right now and if we have to go to the extent of changing existing laws then we would look to do this,” he said.