Maldives Police Service on Sunday arrested the man accused of 'marrying' a 12-year-old girl and impregnating her.
During a press conference held in Iskandharu Koshi, the police revealed that Ismail Hammaadh, 26, was arrested under a warrant after he was discharged from Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.
The issue surfaced after Hammaadh, of Maduvvari, Raa Atoll, was assaulted and thrown overboard from a boat following a dispute with other individuals aboard the vessel. He was reportedly attacked after he refused to participate in a plan devised by the others on the boat. Although it is unclear which act he was supposed to partake in, reports state that all the members on board at the time were religious extremists.
According to the police, the DNA of the child borne by the 13-year-old matched Hammaadh. He was previously convicted of terrorism and served a sentence over the matter.
Superintendent of Police Hassan Haneef stated that the case of an impregnated child 'bride', aged 13, was reported in February while they were investigating a religiously extreme family which had deprived their children of education and other human rights. There are a total of seven children in the family.
As per the information confirmed by the police, the 13-year-old was impregnated while she was living with her family.
Although the matter was initially considered a case of neglect, Superintendent Haneef stated that it was now being investigated as a matter of sexual abuse perpetrated against a child.
Haneef further stated that the police were also collaborating with the Prosecutor General's Office over the matter.
In response to a journalist's question as to why the child was not transferred under state care or another a safe environment during the investigation, Superintendent Haneef stated that relevant institutions had conducted discussions and concluded at the time that she was safest with her mother.
The Maldivian constitution does not allow children under 18 to be married, and consummating an unlawful "marriage" to an underage child constitutes statutory rape.