Minister under fire for rape case remarks; issues apology

Home Minister Imran Abdulla has come under fire for describing a sexual assault that occured aboard a safari as a ‘minor’ incident.

A Kenyan woman was sexually assaulted on a liveaboard safari anchored in the lagoon of reclaimed suburb Hulhumale’ last July and two people were arrested in connection to the case. They were later released due to which the police were subjected to harsh criticism and allegations.

Speaking on a radio program aired by the state radio station on Saturday night, Minister Imran said the media had exaggerated the events related to the case, and said the reports were false. Although some procedural issues were identified in how the police initially handled the case, the reports that the woman had been raped aboard the vessel are untrue, said the minister.

A ‘less minor’ incident had occured aboard the vessel, and such an act could have been committed even publicly, saif the minister. Even if such an act was committed in the presence of others, there are ways to carry out the act without anyone noticing, said the minister. However, the minister refused to describe the ‘minor act’ stating that he was not comfortable speaking about it on a public forum.

‘When I first heard about the case, even I assumed that a major rape case had occurred. Upon further investigation.. Well, it is not easy for me to talk about the act that occured on such a [public] forum. But what I can say is that such an act could have been carried out even out in the open, even among people. What truly happened was such an act, an act that could even go undetected,’ said the minister.

The minister’s statement drew public criticism, and the minister on Sunday posted a tweet accusing that the media was ‘twisting his words’.

‘Sexual assault or harrasment against a woman is not minor. It is a major misdeed. I did not state that it is a minor misdeed. The reports in the media twists the true meaning of what I said,’ said Imran, calling on journalists to uphold professional standards. He further apologised for anything he may have said that gave off a wrong impression.

The lawyers representing the victim of the case have condemned the minister’s statement, and submitted a request to Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed to take action against the Home Minister. A statement released by the law firm said the integrity of the investigation is questionable if the minister in charge of the institution investigating the case describes a case which involves serious accusations as ‘minor’.