150 women face adultery flogging on Maldives

Almost 150 women living in the Maldives face a public flogging for indulging in extra-marital sex after being convicted by the Muslim country's conservative courts. Around 50 men also face the punishment.





Earlier this month, an 18-year-old woman fainted after she was flogged 100 times having been found guilty of having sex with two different men. The woman, who was pregnant at the time of sentencing, had her punishment deferred until after the birth of her child and the court said the teenager's pregnancy was proof of her guilt. In contrast, the accused men were acquitted, with one of them escaping punishment simply because he denied the charge.

The head of the country's Criminal Court, Judge Abdulla Mohamed, told the island's Minivan News that flogging was a deterrent and not designed to cause injury and said the person carrying out the punishment was prohibited from raising his arm higher than his shoulder. "The public should know this lady or man have done these things and they will stay away from these things," he said. As to why fewer men were prosecuted, he said: "A man, after making this problem, will go away and maybe the woman will have relations with more than one man and won't know who was responsible. Or the man denies it."

But Amnesty International's Maldives specialist, Abbas Faiz, called flogging "a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which is banned by international human rights law. The practice is humiliating and leads to psychological as well as physical scars for those subjected to it for years. [It is] a form of torture." The most recent official statistics available to the group date from 2006 and show that a total of 184 people were sentenced to flogging for extra-marital sex under a penal code that includes elements of Sharia law. Of those 146 were women, with the majority of the punishments still to be carried out.

In the Maldives, an island nation made up of more than 1200 atolls, the issue of flogging has become a political battleground following the whipping of the teenager earlier this month outside a government building in the capital, Male. Reports said that the women required hospital treatment after she was flogged in front of a jeering crowd of men.

Since then there have been a number of demonstrations in favour of flogging and several articles published defending its use. Since the case was publicised there have been a number of demonstrations in support of flogging, some calling for the deportation of a British journalist, Maryam Omidi, who published reports of the incident in the local Minivan News. "It's hard to tell whether this is indicative of a wider feeling, because people are afraid to speak out," Omidi said. "But I had people calling me up to offer their support."

In its first free polls held last year, the Maldives elected as its president Mohammed Nasheed, a former prisoner of conscience. But campaigners say the liberally-inclined Mr Nasheed feels prevented from speaking because of his dependence on Islamist coalition allies and because of opponents who are using a debate over Sharia law as political lever.

The Islamist Adhaalath Party, which is a member of the coalition government, has denied organising these demonstrations.

Yet, some voices have spoken out. "We don't cut off the hands of all those who steal and we don't implement the death sentence so why do we continue with these very inhumane practices, especially when the statistics show that the victims are women," said MP Eva Abdulla.

Reports suggest that in recent years, many mosques in the Maldives have fallen under the influence of foreign, conservative imams. The previous president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been Asia's longest-serving ruler and who positioned himself as the country's "defender of Islam", had sought to use the religion to bolster his dwindling. The government in turn said that more conservative forms of the religion had been able to spread as restrictions on freedom of expression were lifted.

For Mr Nasheed, a former political activist who served six terms in jail, the controversy is a severe test. While his inclinations may be of a moderniser, he remains dependent on the support of the conservative Adhaalath Party. Indeed, the party is said to have a grip on the ministry of Islamic Affairs which Mr Nasheed created last year, apparently a political reward for its support.

Last night, presidential spokesman Mohamed Zuhair told The Independent the government was committed to fulfilling its obligations to international treaties that prohibit torture. He added: "The president is holding meetings with all concerned parties to try and deal with this."



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need