The Maldives government has introduced new rules including a heavy fine in case of violations to regulate symbolic marriage ceremonies that are held in the country's resorts. The regulations include a Rf. 1 million (US$78,000) fine for resorts that fail to uphold the new rules. The governmen moved swiftly to introduce the rules after one such ceremony held in resort in October went awry. International outrage was triggered after an internet video showed a holidaying Swiss couple being insulted in one of the country's resort islands.
It showed the staff of Vilu Reef resort using unprintable language to insult the couple who think they were being read out `renewal of marriage vows' in the local Dhivehi language.
The new regulations are aimed at preventing a repeat. "The new regulations stipulate that symbolic marriage ceremonies for tourists visiting the Maldives must be conducted under the supervision of a resort's senior management," a statement from President Mohamed Nasheed's office said.
It added that the ceremonies must be clearly and fully explained to tourists and conducted in a language chosen by the tourists.
"If the tourist chooses to hold their ceremony in a language that is unknown to them, the resort must provide the tourist with a translation of the ceremony in a language they understand," the statement said.
The new regulations state that the official celebrant or any participant shall not "engage in any activity disrespectful or degrading to any religion, Maldivian culture or custom."
The rules go on to state that: "the attendees to the symbolic marriage ceremony shall not engage in any disrespectful activity either actively or verbally while the proceedings are ongoing."
The regulations also state that if the tourists agree to an audio or video recording of their ceremony, resort management must keep a copy of the recording for one year and provide that copy to the tourism ministry, if requested to do so.