Maldives police apologise for ‘regretful’ arrest of bikini-clad woman

The woman is heard shouting ‘you’re sexually assaulting me’

Cathy Adams
Friday 07 February 2020 16:07 GMT
Tourist wearing bikini arrested in Maldives

The Maldives police have apologised to the woman who was arrested for wearing a bikini.

The woman was arrested on 6 February on the non-resort island of Maafushi, part of the Kaafu atoll in the Indian Ocean nation.

Tourism is the biggest industry in the Maldives, and many of its 1,200 or so islands are home to international hotels and resorts, where the dress code is more relaxed.

Footage from the incident shows the woman, wearing a black bikini and speaking with a British accent, struggling against three police officers who are dragging her away from the beach. One officer is seen holding a beach towel trying to cover her up.

She is heard shouting: “You are sexually assaulting me.”

The Maldives Police Service has since issued a public apology over her arrest.

The statement said that local police on Maafushi received a complaint from a member of the public that the woman was “inappropriately clad” while walking on the main road. It added that the woman was alleged to be “inebriated”.

“Tourists are requested to respect the community’s cultural sensibilities and local regulations by restricting the wearing of swimwear to certain areas of the island where local communities live,” it added.

“Maldives Police Services sincerely apologises to the tourist and the public for the regretful manner in which the incident took place,” the statement said.

“A full inquiry has been initiated to ensure that disproportionate measures are not implemented in such situations.

“The safety and security of our country including both residents and visitors alike are of paramount importance to us. Which is why we would like to remind the many visitors who come to our country to be mindful of local sensitives when visiting inhabited islands.”

The woman was detained at Maafushi Police Station and later released without charge.

Maldives Police Service Commissioner Mohamed Hameed also issued a public apology in light of the arrest.

He said: “Incident in Maafushi in which our officers restrained a female tourist seems to be badly handled.

“I apologise to the tourist and the public for this. The challenge I have taken up is to professionalise the police service and we are working on that.”

The UK’s Foreign Office advises travellers that “local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is an Islamic country”.

It adds: “You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

“Dress is generally informal but you should be sensitive to local dress standards when visiting non-resort islands. Nudism and topless sunbathing are not allowed anywhere, including on resort islands.”

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