MALÃ‰, August 22, 2013 (AFP) – The Maldivian High Court has overturned a public flogging sentence for a 15-year-old rape victim whose conviction sparked outrage among rights groups and focused attention on the island nation’s treatment of women. The High Court issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the girl, whose step-father is on trial for raping her, had been wrongly convicted by a juvenile court of having pre-marital sex with another man.
The court said the sentence was handed down based on a confession that the child made while she was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, adding she had been “unfit for trial”.
The Maldivian government appealed on behalf of the teenager following an international outcry over the February sentence to punish her with 100 lashes when she reached the age of 18.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged after police investigating a complaint that she was raped by her step-father found that she had also been having consensual sex with another man.
Premarital sex is illegal in the Maldives, a popular honeymoon destination in the Indian Ocean, which observes elements of Islamic Sharia law as well as English common law.
Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed was “overjoyed