Maldives criminalizes marital rape effective today

Anti-rape protest | Photo: mvcrisis

Malé, Maldives – President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ratified on Monday the first amendment to the Sexual Offences Act (Law No. 17/2014), repealing section 20 of the Act which provided for the offence of marital rape in limited circumstances.

The amendment was passed by Parliament at the 44th sitting of its third session on Monday, November 29, 2021.

The amendment re-defines rape, sexual injury, and sexual assault to extend the offences to married couples. The amendment mandates the provision of rape evidence kits at all government hospitals and health centres, and training of staff at such facilities with a “victim-centred and trauma-informed” approach and on the use of rape evidence kits.

Police shall also be required to use the rape evidence kit for the victims of offences listed under this Act. Victims should also be provided information on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and, upon request, testing for STIs should be provided.

A similar amendment was passed by the parliament in January 2014. Former Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom refused to ratify a law that would partially criminalize marital rape, calling it “un-Islamic.”

Earlier this month, eight organizations welcomed the amendments to the Sexual Offences Act (No. 17/2014) and called for timely implementation of amendment.

Following ratification by President Solih today, the Act has been published in the Government Gazette and has come into effect.