In an unprecedented move by the Maldivian' Judicature to recognize marital rape, the High Court on Thursday sentenced Ibrahim Shah to three years in prison, over the untimely death of his wife Ziyadha Naeem in 2015.
Shah was initially charged with marital rape, manslaughter, negligent homicide and possession of pornography, of which he was acquitted by the Criminal Court after a closed-door trial in March 2019.
The matter was then appealed by the PG Office in April, 2019, contesting that the Criminal Court had acquitted Shah without having considered a portion of the evidence that was presented during the trial.
A post-mortem examination conducted in India confirmed that Ziyadha's body exhibited signs of abuse, and revealed that at the time of her death, she had sustained several injuries to different organs of her body.
Days after the incident occurred, Ziyadha sought treatment at Thinadhoo Hospital, the delay of which contributed to the worsening of her injuries. The doctors at Thinadhoo Hospital then recommended that she seek medical treatment in capital Male' immediately.
Ziyadha was undergoing treatment at state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) when she succumbed to her injuries.
In the two-week period prior to her passing, Ziyadha had reported to her doctors at IGMH that Shah had physically and sexually assaulted her after their separation.
According to High Court Judge Ali Sameer, the verdict was derived in reference to the Holy Qu'ran and Islamic Shariah, which detail a spouse's right to deny consent, further adding that marital rape was already stipulated under the Sexual Offences Act as a crime.
Due to the nature of the matter, the court also highlighted acceptable evidence, noting that scientific evidence, eye witness accounts and forensic findings were used to prove the charges.
In his tweet welcoming the verdict, Prosecutor General Shameem also revealed that an additional two cases against Shah are yet to proceed.
Following the sentencing, the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services also released a circular conveying appreciation for the role played by the Prosecutor General's Office in protecting the rights of women and to bring about the landmark ruling.