Online protest over Maldives’ rape sentence

The Maldives is a highly popular destination for British tourists. But its reputation is being questioned after a teenage rape victim was sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex. Justice campaigners are targeting the country’s lucrative tourism industry unless it improves women’s’ rights. The charges against the girl were brought by police who said she confessed to engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. A confession was made during an investigation by officials into separate accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. The girl is thought to have been abused by local men for some time and her mother is also alleged to have concealed the crime. The flogging sentence prompted outrage from human rights groups which condemned the punishment as “cruel, degrading and inhumane”.  Around 35 per cent of the Maldives’ economy is directly linked to tourism with around 100,000 Britons traveling to the Maldives each year, making the UK its third-largest market for tourism.