By MELISSA WELLHAM
A 15-year-old girl, who has been repeatedly raped by her stepfather, sits in a courtroom during his trial.
The evidence is clear, there is no question that this crime took place. That this man, in a position of trust and confidence in her life, violated her sexually again, and again, and again.
During the trial, it comes to light that the girl had had consensual sex with another man, prior to the rape.
And so she herself is sentenced. Because the girl lives in the Maldives. And the island paradise destination that Australians look longingly at photos of in travel agency brochures…. is subject to Sharia Law.
And under Sharia Law, it is a crime to have premarital sex.
So the girl, a victim of horrific rape, is sentences to 100 lashes as punishment for her ‘crime’.
You can stop imagining now. Because this is no hypothetical, this is real, this is happening: in 2013.
On February 26, the girl was further sentenced to eight months house arrest for her ‘crime’. The Juvenile Court that oversaw her case (yes, this was the decision of a legitimate court) ordered the girl to a children’s home in a nearby community, where she is to serve her eight months arrest before being subjected to the whipping on her 18th birthday.
The Stringer reports that a spokesman for Maldives President Mohamed Waheed, Masood Imad, defended the sentence, saying, “She is not going to be lashed to cause her pain. Rather, it is for her to feel the shame for having engaged in activity forbidden by the religion.”
The girl’s stepfather has also been charged, and sentenced to 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting a minor.
The fact that it is somewhat surprising to hear that an offender in a case like this has actually been charged and punished, is an indictment of the world we live in – where often perpetrators of gender-based violence go free, particularly in developing nations.
Unbelievably, this story gets worse.
The girl, her stepfather and her mother were all first arrested in June 2012, after police found the body of a baby she had given birth to, buried outside their home.