15-year-old raped by stepfather faces flogging for ‘fornication’

A 15-year-old girl in the Maldives whose stepfather is accused of repeatedly raping her and killing the resulting baby risks being flogged for “fornication” with another man under the nation’s strict Islamic law.

In the course of inquiries into the rape case, police investigators say they unearthed evidence of the girl having had consensual sex with another man, which is an offence in the Indian Ocean holiday destination, a police source said.

Women, including minors, having consensual sex outside marriage can be charged in the Maldives, where convicts can be publicly flogged. Minors receive the punishment when they reach 18, the age of majority.

The girl’s stepfather is accused by police of repeatedly raping the girl and fathering a child by her which he subsequently murdered.

The girl’s mother has been charged with helping dispose of the infant’s body, police said.

“We completed the investigation [into the baby’s murder] and gave a report to the prosecutor general’s office,” said Maldivian police spokesman Hassan Haneef.

Haneef declined to give further details, saying that Maldivian common law did not allow the discussion of any case involving a minor.

The local Haveeru newspaper quoted an unnamed official from the prosecutor’s office saying that the fornication charge was unrelated to the rape, which had been dealt with separately.

The legal system of the Maldives, a nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims known for its coral-fringed islands and sandy beaches, has elements of Islamic Sharia law as well as English common law.

The country carries out the flogging of women despite calls from the UN Human Rights Council to drop the practice.

In September, a Maldivian court ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having pre-marital sex.

Her 29-year-old lover was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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