More than a million people have signed an online petition condemning the Maldives over the sentencing of a 15-year-old rape victim to 100 lashes for pre-marital sex with another man.
The petition, started two days ago by New York-based campaign group avaarz.org, calls on Maldives President Mohamed Waheed to intervene and had been signed by 1,290,000 users on Wednesday Morning (GMT).
People are signing in from many corners of the world .
Richard Branson has become the latest voice to criticise the Maldives for sentencing a 15-year-old rape victim to be flogged with 100 lashes.
A juvenile court in Maldives last month handed her the sentence after convicting her of ‘having premarital sex’ – sparking outrage across the world.
The global campaign site Avaaz.org quickly set up a petition calling on supporters to, “threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until [the President] steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law.”
The petition could be signed at – http://www.avaaz.org/en/maldives_global/?wSxzsdb
The Campaign started to build a million-strong petition but now it is set to make at least a 1.5 million in the next few days.
Last month the unidentified Maldivian girl was sentenced to a public flogging after police investigating a complaint that she was raped by her stepfather found that she had also been having consensual sex with another man.
The girl’s stepfather is accused of raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore
Power of Social media
The campaign that has demonstrated the power of social media is putting the Maldivian government under heavy pressure.
As the main source of income for the Maldives is tourism it has to sensitive to international opinion.
The campaigners introduce themselves as a group that is exploiting social media for common good.” Avaaz’s online community can act like a megaphone to call attention to new issues; a lightning rod to channel broad public concern into a specific, targeted campaign; a fire truck to rush an effective response to a sudden, urgent emergency; and a stem cell that grows into whatever form of advocacy or work is best suited to meet an urgent need.” said its web site.
According to the Wikipedia entry- The name Avaaz (Persian: آواز) was derived from the Persian word for ‘voice’ (also ‘sound’ or ‘song’).
Avaaz.org was co-founded by Res Publica, a “community of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance, civic virtue and deliberative democracy
“Since 2009, Avaaz has not taken donations from foundations or corporations, nor has it accepted payments of more than $5,000 (£3,100).” the Guardian reports. “Instead, it relies simply on the generosity of individual members, who have now raised over $20m (£12.4m).” In 2011 it had around 50 staff.
Avaaz global campaigns are managed by a team of campaigners working from over 30 countries, including the UK, India, Lebanon and Brazil. They communicate with members via email, and employ campaigning tactics including online public petitions, videos, and email-your-leader tools. In some cases Avaaz also uses advertisements and commissions legal advice to clarify how best to take a campaign forward, and stages “sit-ins, rallies, phone-ins and media friendly stunts”.
Examples of stunts include “taking a herd of cardboard pigs to the doors of the World Health Organisation to demand an investigation into the link between swine flu and giant pig farms and creating a three-mile human chain handshake from the Dalai Lama to the doors of the Chinese Embassy in London to request dialogue between the parties.
Suggestions for campaigns come from members, supplemented by guidance from teams of specialists.