A 15-year-old girl in Maldives has been sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest for engaging in premarital sex. The Maldives government is saying there is nothing they can do to help the teen.
The registrar for the Juvenile Court said Wednesday that the girl confessed during a court hearing to the charge of "fornication," CNN reports. The sentence was given on Tuesday.
“She’s staying in a children’s home now so we have ordered her to remain in a children’s home,” registrar Zaima Nasheed Aboobakur told CNN. “We have explained to her how if she wants to receive the punishment (the lashings) right now she can … or it can be postponed until she turns 18."
The same 15-year-old girl was also allegedly a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Amnesty International told CNN. However, neither the identity of the girl or her stepfather have been released and the cases are reportedly not related.
More from CNN on this case:
CNN, meanwhile, has contacted the prosecutor’s office about the specifics of the case against the girl and the allegations against her stepfather. In an e-mail response, the deputy prosecutor general said the office is, “restricted by laws in relation to the amount we can share with (the) public when it involves a minor.” The prosecutor’s office did promise to provide “as much information as we can,” but has not yet responded to CNN’s follow-up e-mail.
Faiz objected to how authorities used a confession from a sexually abused minor. The girl should have first received legal guidance and protection, he said.
“Confession from a child who has really gone through some damaging experiences cannot be taken as evidence,” he said. “If she had said no, then the only case that would have gone forward would have been the charge of sexually abusing a minor against the stepfather.”
Authorities began their investigation after a dead baby was discovered, and investigators questioned the girl, who later confessed to consensual premarital sex, Faiz said. Amnesty International’s sources close to the island where the sexual abuse had taken place provided this account, Faiz said.
Other groups, like Human Rights Watch, have blasted the sentence and has urged the country to "reform its laws" to ensure maximum protection for children."
The Maldives president's spokesperson downplayed the physical effects of the lashing, calling the process more "ceremonial."
“They just pretend she’s been lashed. It’s not a painful process. She is taken to one side and she is patted on her backside with this lashing. It’s not used hard. It’s just a token, a token exercise. It’s a belief,” he said.
To read CNN's full report, click here.