32 people – including a former Maldives minister – were arrested over the sexual exploitation of a teenage girl.
She was being sold online for sexual services over a period of three months.
Police said 22 people are known to have had sex with the minor.
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A former Maldives minister and politicians from Sri Lanka’s ruling party were part of over 30 people arrested in connection with a child sex trafficking case in Sri Lanka, police said Monday.
Sri Lanka police discovered two websites advertising girls for sexual activities, according to an AFP report on Channel News Asia.
One of the girls advertised is a 15-year-old police say was repeatedly raped by nearly two dozen men.
“We have 32 people in custody, and 22 of them are known to have had sex with the minor,” Sri Lanka Police Deputy Inspector-General Ajith Rohana told the AFP.
The racket was busted after a 35-year-old was arrested last month for selling the teenager online for sex over a period of three months, reported Ceylon Today.
Those arrested include Maldives’ former State Minister for Finance Mohamed Ashmalee, politicians from Sri Lanka’s United National ruling party, a merchant navy captain, a wealthy gem dealer, and a Buddhist monk.
Charges have not yet been filed.
Ashmalee, the former Maldives minister, will be held on remand until July 16, a court official told AFP. His lawyer claimed the finance minister was trying to book a massage online, and was unaware the site was part of an online child sex trafficking ring.
The 15-year-old’s mother, along with the website owner and the financial controller of the website, was also part of the 32 arrested, reported Ceylon Today.
In recent years, Sri Lanka has made significant steps to curtail the sex trafficking of minors but remains on the US State Department’s Tier 2 watch list of countries that have failed to meet the minimum standards set in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
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