Maldivian president rejects ‘un-Islamic’ ban on some forms of marital rape

BY Ellen Rolfes  January 16, 2014 at 7:13 PM EDT
Oath Taking Ceremony of the New President and Vice President 17 November 2013 Dharubaaruge --- Mr Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, center, is sworn in as President of the Maldives and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, right, is sworn in as Vice President. Photo by Maldivian Government (press release)

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, center, was sworn into the presidency on Nov. 17, 2013. Photo by Maldivian government

Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen refused to sign a bill Thursday that criminalizes some forms of marital rape, Religion News Service reported. Though the bill passed parliament with 67-2 vote, Yameen rejected the legislation, which limits a husband’s right to demand sex from his wife, because it was “un-Islamic.

The bill did not criminalize all marital rape, but banned it under the following circumstances:

- if a case for dissolution of a marriage is in court
- while a divorce, filed by the husband or wife, is pending a court hearing
- if the intent of intercourse is to transmit a sexually transmitted disease
- if the couple agrees to a mutual separation

The veto came weeks after the vice president of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Maldives criticized the bill, Minivan News reported. The bill did not fit in line with the teachings of Islam because “it is not permissible under any circumstance for a woman to refrain from [sex] when the husband is in need.”

Yameen said after his election in November 2013, his mandate was to “to save the Maldivian nation, to protect the sacred religion of Islam.” The proposed bill now goes back to parliament for reconsideration.

According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life report, Muslims make up 98.4 percent of the Maldivian population.