AN ONLINE campaign urging tourists to boycott the Maldives has received the backing of nearly two million people.
The petition is calling for reform of the country’s judicial system after a 15-year-old rape victim was sentenced last month to 100 lashes for premarital sex.
The girl, from the island of Feydhoo, reportedly confessed to police that she had been raped by her stepfather and abused by other local men.
Hosted by the website Avaaz.com, the petition contains a plea to Maldivian president Mohamed Waheed Hassan, to “do more to protect vulnerable women and children” and “change the law so that it better protects the victims of rape”.
“Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldivian government where it hurts: the tourism industry,” it says. “Let’s 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.”
Last week, Sir Richard Branson also spoke out against the sentencing. He called for the president to intervene and said “enormous damage” was being done to the Maldives.
The decision to target tourism was strongly condemned by the country’s tourism ministry.
Tourism accounts for about a third of the country’s GDP, and since the overthrow of former president Mohamed Nasheed in 2012, several calls have been made for travellers to stop visiting the islands.The new government has been accused of human rights abuses. © The Telegraph