Sharia Law - Public flogging of a 16 year old girl for having sex
A Sharia Law Court in the Maldives has ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having pre-marital sex, in a ruling that triggered widespread criticism from rights groups.
Official sources said the girl had been tried under sharia law which prohibits girls between the ages of 13 and 18 having pre-marital sex. Sex with a girl under the age of 13 is considered rape.
A court official said the girl could refuse the flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest. Should she agree, the lashing will be carried out when she reaches the age of 18.
"In most cases, the offenders would accept the lashing as part of penance," the official, who declined to be named, said.
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Flogging, carried out with a cane, is normally handed down as a punishment by village chiefs who also act as local judges.
Rights activists slammed the judgement and called for it to be overturned. "Degrading and inhuman punishments should find no place in a democracy," said Aruna Kashyap, women's rights researcher for Asia at Human Rights Watch.
"Maldives should immediately halt the execution of the punishment and take action to amend its discriminatory laws."
Suhas Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, said the sentence reflected the government's intention to consolidate its support among sharia law followers, in the face of serious political opposition.
"This could be used by the government to say they're committed to Islam," he said. "Courts are not independent in the Maldives so the government will have a hand." He said the lashes were also a breach of the UN Convention against Torture.
"This is ridiculous, and hypocritical," said a man identified as Mariyam. "How many people over the age of 18 are having sex outside of marriage every day in this country. Why not flog them. And why not flog the 29-year-old man. If the girl has to face public humiliation why not the man."
(AFP - Yahoo News)