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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/26/2013 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Maldives girl was rape victim accused of 'fornication'

A 15-year-old girl has been spared 100 lashes on charges of "fornication," following her rape at the hands of her stepfather. Global outrage overturned the decision in the tiny island nation of Maldives. 

The Maldivian High Court overturned the sentence last week, which was hailed as a victory by Avaaz.

The Maldivian High Court overturned the sentence last week, which was hailed as a victory by Avaaz.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/26/2013 (7 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Maldives, lashings, fornication, rape, world opinion


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Her charge for "fornication" last February sparked a petition by global network Avaaz. The incident also sparked anger from the country's opposition and women's rights groups.

The petition to have her sentence commuted was signed by two million people worldwide. The Maldivian High Court overturned the sentence last week, which was hailed as a victory by Avaaz.
 
There have since been calls for a moratorium on all flogging sentences in the Maldives. Led by the Islamic government of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, the tropical island nation suffered negative world opinion in light of this most recent case.

The 15-year-old girl, whose privacy is protected is now free but has been put under house arrest on an island near the capital Male following her sentence. The sentence was overturned, according to the High Court, because the girl denied "confessing" to consensual sex outside marriage.

Activists have called for her to be able to continue her education and be looked after by the state rather than returned to her family where she could face more abuse.

"This is great news that her flogging sentence has been overturned and that she no longer faces house arrest," Alaphia Zoyab, who led the campaign on behalf of Avaaz told reporters.

"The reason this is a big deal is that we are talking about a 15-year-old child. She is a child. A lot of people have said she knew what she was doing, but she is a child."

The story surrounding her arrest is just as horrific as her would-be sentence. The girl and her step-father were arrested after the body of a baby she had given birth to was discovered buried outside their house on Feydhoo in June of 2012.

Her stepfather had allegedly been abusing the girl for years. He is now reportedly facing 25 years in prison for the rape and allegedly killing a baby conceived from it.

He has been charged with sexually abusing a minor, possessing pornography and murder. The victim's mother has been charged with concealing a crime and murder.

The Maldivian government had reportedly urged the court to show leniency describing the girl as having been "traumatized" by the rape.

Nine out of 10 sentences for flogging in the Maldives in 2011 were given to women, while no one has been convicted of rape in the past three years.

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