The arrest of a tourist from an inhabited island in the Maldives on Thursday sparked outrage on social media after video footage emerged of the bikini-clad British woman being manhandled and dragged away by three male police officers.
The incident prompted a series of apologies from the police chief Mohamed Hameed for the "badly handled" situation before the parliament speaker and former president Mohamed Nasheed apologized to the woman, now identified as Cecilia Rose Jastrzembska, on behalf of the archipelago's parliament.
During Monday's sitting, Nasheed went further by inviting the woman to return to the luxury island destination.
Not 'indecent exposure' but domestic violence
According to police sources and eyewitness accounts, the woman got off a safari yacht to Maafushi island in Kaafu Atoll heavily inebriated and wearing a bikini.
However, AVAS understands that the locals did not report the woman to the police for 'indecent exposure' but for a possible case of domestic violence as she was seen kicking and beating her partner - Lucas Ramos as she walked inland.
Police arrived at the scene to find the couple in a heated argument as they approached the island's school. Locals told AVAS that parents were forced to keep their children inside the school as the angry woman was shouting profanities at her partner before turning on the police officers who were trying to calm her down.
She reportedly rejected the efforts of the officers before unleashing an angry tirade at the cops for politely asking her to cover herself up - reminding her of local dress standards in inhabited islands in the Maldives.
"She kept screaming that she was a prominent lawyer in the UK and would not have to obey or comply with local laws. She continued to insult the cops and even threatened to sue the officers at one point," a local at the scene told AVAS.
After failing to convince the woman, the police officers then turned to her partner for help. However, the still furious woman refused to heed the pleas of her desperate boyfriend. According to sources, as the situation escalated, the locals gathered at the scene grew more agitated and the officers were forced to act - more for the safety of the woman.
But as the officers tried to lead the couple away from the scene, the woman continued to violently resist their attempts.
"That's when they decided to put her in cuffs. But she fought them. Even bit both the officers. She snatched another officer's sunglasses. All the while she was screaming expletives," an eyewitness told AVAS on condition of anonymity.
The officers then took the handcuffed woman and her partner to the police station on the island. Once at the station, the police along with her partner made another futile attempt to reason with her. But the woman would not listen and accused the police of forcing her to convert to Islam. The police then had to convince some of the angry locals out of protesting against the woman outside the station.
"As soon as she was uncuffed, she ran out of the station. The officers went out in search of her and found her taking a swim about a 100 feet from the shore," the source detailed.
As the police tried to obtain more details from her partner, a cutter knife fell out from her clothes the man was holding. Police later found that the woman had snatched the cutter knife from the police station before she ran out.
The woman left the Maldives the next day.
Divided public opinion
As the story captured the attention of several British media outlets, most continue to echo concerns over the impact the incident could have on the country's reputation as an idyllic tourist destination.
Most people agree that the police should have handled the situation a lot better while others lambasted the authorities for the absence of a female police officer in arguably the foremost local tourism destination in the country.
But others shifted blame towards the woman, insisting that tourists must respect the cultural sensitivities, and religious norms of any country.