, MALE, Sept 4 – A court in the Maldives has ordered a public flogging for a 16-year-old girl who confessed to having pre-marital sex, defying UN pressure to drop corporal punishment of women, officials said Tuesday.
The unnamed teenager was convicted on her confession under sharia law after her family complained that she has had sex with a 29-year-old man in July.
The man was given 10 years in jail during a court hearing in the remote Raa atoll on Sunday.
A court official said the girl, whose identity was not revealed, could refuse the public flogging and would then instead be subjected only to eight months house arrest under local laws.
The court ordered the lashing to be carried out when she reached the age of 18.
“In most cases, the offenders would accept the lashing as part of penance,” a court official who declined to be named said.
The latest court ruling came 10 months after UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Maldives to stop publicly flogging women for having extra-marital or pre-marital sex.
Pillay noted during a visit to the country that the Maldives had progressed in safeguarding the rights of its 330,000 Sunni Muslims, but more needed to be done to protect women.
Flogging is normally handed down as a punishment by village chiefs who also act as local judges. A cane is used.
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. The conviction was on the basis of her confession.
Her lover, on the other hand, had been tried under common law and convicted for having sex with a minor, an offence punishable with a sentence of up to 15 years in jail.
The pair had intercourse in the Raa atoll, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital island Male.
The Maldives, better known as a luxury tourist destination, adopted multi-party democracy in 2008, but faced political unrest leading to the resignation of the first elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, in February.