Sexually Abused Girl Should Be Protected, Not Punished

Press Release
January 8, 2013

Sexually Abused Girl Should Be Protected, Not Punished

Human Organization Decries Treatment of Maldivian Incest Victim

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) -- The charges of "fornication" against a 15-year-old girl in Maldives, who there is strong reason to believe was raped by her stepfather, is outrageous, Amnesty International said.

The girl and her stepfather were first arrested after the body of a baby she had given birth to was found buried outside their house on Feydhoo island in Maldives in June 2012.

The stepfather, who had reportedly sexually abused his daughter for years, has been charged with sexually abusing a minor, possessing pornography, and murder, while her mother has been charged with concealing a crime and murder.

The 15-year-old girl has reportedly been charged with "fornication," though the Maldivian authorities have refused to confirm the details of the case and whether it is related to the rape by her stepfather.

"This is an absolute outrage, regardless of the reason for her charges," said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International's Maldives researcher. "Victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse should be given counseling and support – not charged with a crime. We urge the Maldivian authorities to immediately drop all charges against the girl, ensure her safety and provide her with all necessary support."

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 and punishment," said Faiz. "The Maldivian authorities should immediately end its use, regardless of circumstances. The fact that this time a 15-year-old girl who has suffered terribly is at risk makes it all the more reprehensible. Flogging is not only wrong and humiliating, but can lead to long-term psychological as well as physical scars."

The Maldivian Department of Judicial Administration today claimed that no case against the girl has been filed in the Juvenile Court, even though it acknowledged that charges against her exist.

Amnesty International has received credible reports that the Maldivian authorities have charged and convicted other girls in the past, some of whom have been survivors of rape and other sexual assault, with ”fornication” which had led to them being punished by flogging.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.