The Ministry of Islamic Affairs is formulating rules and guidelines for registering and operating alternative medicine centres, spas and beauty salons to prevent the use of such establishments as a front for prostitution.
Shutting down spas and massage parlors doubling as brothels was a key demand of a ‘mega protest’ on December 23 organised by eight political parties and religious NGOs to ‘Defend Islam’ against the allegedly liberal policies of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government.
Briefing press yesterday on the first 100 days of the new government, Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed claimed the ministry possessed a list of suspected brothels in inhabited islands, “most of which have already been shut down.”
“There are still suspected places on the list [in operation],” he added.
Seven beauty salons have been closed down by police since the controversial transfer of power on February 7.
The new regulations currently being drafted would expand the role of the Islamic Ministry in monitoring the businesses, Shaheem said.
Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla had claimed during the December 23 demonstration that there were over 60 brothels in the Male’ alone, double the number of mosques in the capital.
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, State Minister for Islamic Affairs, Mohamed Ibrahim Didi, explained that the ministry was working together with police as well as the tourism and health ministries to set up a monitoring mechanism.
Efforts were underway by a technical committee comprising of representatives from police and the relevant ministries to draw up a regulatory framework for registration and monitoring of the businesses, Didi added.
Under current regulations, said Didi, there was no institution or state authority responsible for monitoring alternative medicine centers and beauty salons.
“[Prostitution] is taking place in beauty salons as well,” Didi claimed. “For example, say barber shops. At the moment there is no guardianship for those places. Anyone has the opportunity to do it. Registration is not necessary either. So we’re looking for a way to get those places registered.”