The Maldives – Welcome to Paradise?

The government of the Maldives is concerned about its tourism numbers and has approved a near doubling of its promotional budget for next year.

I wonder whether they will want to publicise the recent case of the 15-year old rape victim who has been sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside marriage. Allegedly, as well as being repeatedly raped by her step-father, she also had consensual sex with another man.

But don’t worry, the Maldivian government is quite humane and would not hurt a young girl – she will be given the lashes when she reaches 18, unless she chooses to accept the punishment earlier.

The sentence was defended by the President of the Maldives who explained that it was not meant to hurt the girl but to show her the error of her ways.

So that’s all ok then.

Hard-line Islamic fundamentalism, political thuggery and deep-seated corruption do not mix well with the image of western-style sybaritic luxury that the Maldives tries so hard to promote.

The gap between the slick promotional image and grim reality is maybe wider in the Maldives than any other major tourist destination.


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