News24

Maldives spa ban after prostitute protest

2011-12-30 20:04

Colombo - The Maldives has ordered hundreds of luxury hotels to close their spas after protests by an Islamist party which claimed they were a front for prostitution, an official told AFP Friday.

The tourism ministry instructed all resort hotels across the nation's 1 192 tiny coral islands to shut their spas and health centres offering beauty treatments and massage with immediate effect.

The opposition Adhaalath party, a conservative religious movement whose website features an article criticising "lustful music," staged protests in the capital Male last week accusing spas of being used as brothels.

"An Islamic party has been agitating against spas hoping to embarrass the government," a senior government figure told AFP by telephone, confirming Thursday's ministry order but asking not to be named.

The tourism industry is a vital foreign exchange earner and employer in the Maldives, a popular high-end destination for well-heeled honeymooners and celebrities where luxury rooms can cost up to $12 000 a day.

The Indian Ocean country this year received more than 850 000 tourists, drawn to its secluded islands known for turquoise blue lagoons, as well as corals and reefs filled with multi-coloured fish.

The government bowed to the pressure less than a week after President Mohamed Nasheed called for a "tolerant" form of Islam in his nation of 330 000 people, who by law are all Muslims.

He urged Maldivians to reject religious extremism and support the more liberal "traditional form" of Islam that has been practised in the Maldives for centuries.

Despite the Islamic republic's reputation as a laid-back holiday paradise, burnished by frequent international marketing campaigns, there is growing concern about the influence of a minority of religious fundamentalists.

Women flogged

There have been anti-semitic protests recently about the transport ministry's decision to allow direct flights from Israel, while a restaurant that hung up Christmas decorations last year was also targeted.

In 2010, a marriage celebrant was filmed abusing a Western couple as "swine" and "infidels" in a religious-tinged hate speech during a ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language.

Most recently, UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay has sought to highlight the plight of Maldivian women who can be publicly flogged for having extra-marital sex.

Industry sources said they expected the government to revoke the decision on spas considering the huge revenue earned from the business.

The deluxe Huvafen Fushi, where an ocean view room can cost $10 440 per night, told AFP Friday that their spa was open on Friday and they were accepting bookings for the New Year.

"We have heard of this report, but our spa is open," a Huvafen Fushi manager said. The hotel boasts the world's first underwater spa treatment rooms where guests have a close up view of marine life.

The government move to shut spas will directly affect an opposition leader, Gasim Ibrahim, head of the Jumhoory Party, who owns five, the independent Minivan news website reported.

Comments
  • Anthony - 2011-12-30 20:59

    islamic party which clamed they were a front for prostitution. huh, islamic party prostitution F%$K how low will you guys"who$%s" go?

      Mike - 2011-12-31 14:44

      agree, and rather ban the damn Islamic groups they are what is wrong in this world!

  • ArchAngel - 2011-12-30 21:12

    The Islamic Party was a front for prostitution? ROFL ..... could not have expressed it better myself.

  • Mike - 2011-12-30 21:51

    Yet more proof of exactly how ridiculous any form if religion can be when left unchecked.

  • leigh.ridgway - 2011-12-30 22:16

    These extremists are an embarresment to the human race! I wonder how many of these religeous zelots had treatment, followed by a 'happy ending' in the very spa's they forced to close! Man made religeon to suit man NOT God. Look how they treat the mothers of their own children! It's a disgrace!

  • Fran - 2011-12-30 22:30

    I wonder how they worked that one out.. let me guess THEY asked for extras???? As a Professional Massage Therapist, I can tell you it is the biggest insult to us. How sad I'm sure there are a lot of poor therapists from 3rd world countries who are now out of work....

      Mike - 2011-12-30 23:35

      @Fran, I have many hours of first hand experience watching how our Islamist brothers go off the deep end the moment they think they are free from the confines of Sharia law so I can definitely agree with your take on it.

      Mohamed - 2011-12-31 08:26

      Fran I totally agree with you! Even I involve in Spa operations in a Resort. You and I know how we operate how professional we are! Now I feel ashamed to face the Family. That’s how dirty politics is. They have spoiled our names and the dignity of this Spa Industry and Tourism of Maldives. This is too much! The opposition leaders called to ban and close all the places in Male’ City where the prostitution is carried out! In the name of Massage Parlors, Health Centers they operate in City and it’s a shame for us professionals. I strongly contempt this uncivilized act of the Government of the Maldives.

      Fran - 2011-12-31 12:53

      Thanks Mike and Mohamed.... IT is a very sad fact and I am devastated for the poor therapists, a few who I know personally who are now out of work and unsure of their futures. I cannot tell you how frustrating and insulting it is when a client expects more, It truly ruins the rest of your day. Interestingly enough when I worked in the middle east it was the male clients pro-positing the male therapists more than the females which I found rather odd. However this is not a personal attack on any culture or religion, for me it is personally a frustrating situation, knowing how professional the spa industry is and how there are many therapists there who come from nothing and send most of their earnings home to their much disadvantaged families. The trolls are clearly out.

  • Peter - 2011-12-31 06:04

    Every religious sect has their favoured format for pushing their beliefs onto others - Islamism uses sex.

  • Mohamed - 2011-12-31 08:03

    Maldivian Resort Boy I would like to make it clear that the government of Maldives is propagating wrong news. The protest held on 23rd of November arranged by all the opposition parties and a huge number of Maldivians gathered and call the government for 5 demands. 1. To Ban the Massage parlors in Male’ where the prostitution is widely carried out. (they are not like spas in the resorts/hotels and they didn’t mention about the Spas in the Resorts) note: we Maldivians know that Resort Spas are professionally operated places, but the government failed to know that and President ordered to close 5 Spa of the opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim, (Paradise island Spa, Sun Island Spa, Royal Island Spa, Holiday Island Spa & Fun island Spa) saying they do carry prostitution. So the Government mocked and abuses the Honorable Guests who spent holidays in the Maldives and get the service of these spas’s saying they suspect Gasim Ibrahim’s Spa’s carry out prostitution and banned 5 of them. Note: now the Court of Maldives has given permission to operate the closed 5 spas. 2. To stop opening Bars and selling Alcohol in the Local Inhabited Islands and in the Capital City Male’ as it will affect the local community. (Government has informed that they are thinking to Ban all the Resort Bars and stop importing Alcohol) note: the position protest they didn’t demand to Ban Alcohol in Resorts, but government has announced they will ban.

      emile.eley - 2011-12-31 08:11

      I want whatever you've been drinking.

      Garth - 2011-12-31 08:43

      The hypocrisy of ALL those that practise ANY form of religion is always on show. If, ANY of the inhabitants of ANY country governed by religion were as devout as they all claim to be, there would be no need to ban alcohol, prostitution, bestiality, sodomy, etc. in those countries, because the devout would not indulge in sinful pleasures of the flesh. A prime example of this hypocrisy was made by the previous government of SA, run by the devoutly religious calvinists, that had to ban inter-racial relationships and marriage, gambling, prostituion and other sins of the flesh so that they could save their volk from sin. The government though, in their infinite wisdom, then gave gambling rights to the next door `homelands' and suddenly all the `devout brethren' had business to conduct in these places. They flocked to those places of sin for 6 days of the week and then received absolution from sin, in church on the 7th day. The funny thing about the maldivian hypocrisy is that it is not about keeping the muslims pure of faith and body by removing the opportunity to sin, it is opposition politics that is closing down the places of sin - it has very little to do with purity and all to do with snouts in the trough.

  • emile.eley - 2011-12-31 08:10

    Muslim by law? Any comment Riaad et al?

  • Mohamed - 2011-12-31 08:12

    3. Remove the statues/Monuments from Addu City, which the government placed during the last SAARC Summit. It is logical that those statues are not suitable to keep in our local community, if any one destroy it it’s not a good thing to destroy other religions things. In response the Government has told that they will remove all the dummies in the Shops as they are also same as those Statues. 4. President to ask forgives from the Public on behalf of the "Navi" Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, for her abusing Islam and Maldivians during her speech in the Parliament. 5. Not to Give permission to Israel Airline to come to Maldives as we are a peace loving Country don’t want to face any of such hazard, as there might be an attack from anywhere to them and we don’t want to get involved in such a thing and Israel Flights might be a threaten for Maldivies from nearby countries where terrorism is widely spread.

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