06th February 2014

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) request the attention of the international community regarding the state of women’s rights in the Maldives after the President’s veto of a bill containing limits on marital rape.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) are highly concerned at the state of women’s rights and freedoms in the Republic of the Maldives.  WLUML sees the recent veto of the sexual offences bill by President Yameen an indicator that Maldivian women’s dire situation.

The sexual offences bill was vetoed on the grounds that it contravenes Shari’a, owing to the bill’s criminalisation of certain instances of marital rape.  In fact, the bill falls seriously short of criminalising marital rape all together, only doing so in four instances: while a case for dissolution of the marriage is in a court; while the divorce filed by either husband or wife is pending; sexual intercourse to intentionally transmit a sexually transmitted disease; and during a mutually agreed separation (without divorce). 

WLUML do not endorse the passing of the bill in its current state as it contains many problematic elements, particularly those that criminalise same-sex relations.  However, we express our alarm that the limited legal recourse for women contained in this bill was deemed controversial enough for it to be vetoed. This decision - which comes 18 months after a 15-year old rape victim was sentenced to flogging - suggests that women in the Maldives are living with serious restrictions on their freedoms and are treated unequally by the law.

A 15-year-old girl who was sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex has had her punishment overturned by a Maldives court.

A 15-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, court officials said. The charges against the girl were brought against her last year after police investigated accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. He is still to face trial.

A 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 Tuesday triggered widespread criticism from rights groups.

The Islamic Ministry’s Fiqh Academy hasdeclared that women are not allowed to perform marriages or lead a marriage ceremony according to Islam, and therefore cannot be a judge when performing marriages. The declaration was announced by the President of Fiqh Academy and Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari, together with eight other scholars of the academy.

In two days, the UN will elect four members to represent Asia in its Human Rights Commission. The Maldives, as one of the candidates, is widely expected to gain a seat since only four member states are running for the four seats. But is the Maldives ready for a human rights position at the international stage? Here in the Maldives, human rights activists and civil society groups have been raising concerns about the threat to freedom of expression, gender equality and child rights from a sustained campaign being waged largely by the government’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

While Saudi women might, just might, be escaping the vicious tentacles of religious police, Maldivian women are not far from being subject to a vagarious moral police force. In fact, women without burgas and long sheaths of black cloth are already looked down upon and unfairly viewed as loose women. Are we going backwards while our ‘role-model’ the nation that some of strive to recreate, is shifting gears?

An Islamic scholar is facing flak for not wearing the right beard. We must not let Wahhabism suffocate this island nation's identity, writes Maryam Omidi, editor of Maldives-based website Minivan News.
The women 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.
Mohamed Nasheed, Minister for Information, Legal Reform and the Arts, has said he believes it is “unfortunate” that most of the country’s judges come from a background in Shari’ah law, and warned of “the invisible, uncodified world which is Islamic law”.
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