The girl says she was raped by her stepfather and others for years and her stepfather is accused of murdering the baby she bore. Now the court says she must be flogged for "sex outside marriage"! President Waheed of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure on this, but we can force him to save this girl and change the law to spare other victims this cruel fate. This is how we can win the War on Women – by standing up every time an outrage like this happens.
Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let's build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands' reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law. Sign and forward this email now to get us to a million:
The Maldives is a paradise for tourists. But for women there, it can be hell. Under harsh interpretations of sharia law, women and children are routinely punished with flogging and house arrest if found guilty of extramarital sex or adultery. It's nearly always the women who get punished, not the perpetrators. A staggering one in three women between ages 15 and 49 have suffered physical or sexual abuse -- yet zero rapists were convicted in the past three years.
Winning this battle can help women everywhere, as the Maldives government is right now running for a top UN human rights position - on a platform of women's rights! Global outrage has already forced President Waheed to appeal the sentence in the 15-year-old's case. But that's not enough. Extremists inside the country will force him to abandon further reforms if international attention fades. Let's tell the Maldives that it stands to lose its reputation as a romantic tourist hot spot unless it changes its attitudes to and laws about women.
If enough of us raise our voices, we can get President Waheed and his MPs to face down the extremists. The president is already on the back foot over this shameful, tragic story - let's seize this moment to prevent more horrifying injustices against girls and women. Sign the petition, then send this email widely:
Avaaz members have fought many battles in the global war on women. In Afghanistan, we helped protect a young woman who bravely spoke out about her horrific rape; in Honduras, we fought alongside local women against a law that would jail women using the morning-after pill. Let's now protect the women of the Maldives.
With hope and determination,
Jeremy, Mary, Nick, Alex, Ricken, Laura, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team
Maldives girl to get 100 lashes for pre-marital sex (BBC)
Maldives government to appeal flogging of rape victim (Dawn, Pakistan)
Rape victims punished, failed by Maldives justice system (Minivan news, Maldives)
Judicial statistics show 90 percent of those convicted for fornication are female (Minivan news, Maldives)