Thousands of Canadians are among the estimated 875,000 people who have signed an online petition against the authorities of Maldives who have sentenced a 15-year-old rape victim to receive 100 lashes for having premarital sex with another man.
The girl was sentenced to the public whipping after it was revealed she was having consensual sex with another man while police were investigating rape allegations by her stepfather. The child’s stepfather is also accused of murdering a baby born to her as a result of the rape. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The petition was set up by Avaaz.org, a website that describes itself as one that ”empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues.”
Avaaz.org is asking people to hit the “Maldives government where it hurts — the tourism industry. Let’s build a million-strong petition … then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law.”
“Rape is rape, and it changes a person’s mental and physical image of herself. Paternal rape is the worst. The young girl must be set free and her stepfather must have a proper and due punishment which were brutal to begin with and ending with murder. The poor girl need urgent psychiatric help to heel her from all the mental wounds, but unfortunately they don’t heal totally, there is always deep scars left in the psyche. Help this girl, do not punish her,” wrote one of the people who signed the petition.
President Mohammed Waheed Hassan had expressed shock and asked the state attorney-general to appeal the conviction amid an international outcry and condemnation from rights groups such as Amnesty International.
Premarital sex is illegal in the popular honeymoon destination.
In September, a court in the Maldives ordered the public flogging of a 16-year-old who confessed to premarital sex. Her lover was jailed for 10 years.