Organisers at One Billion Rising in the Maldives have expressed disappointment over the number government officials who failed to attend the event, aimed at ending violence towards women.
The international campaign was launched in the Maldives on Thursday (February 14) by NGO Hope for Women at Jumhooree Maidhaan in Male’.
The One Billion Rising campaign began after research revealed that one in three women around the world will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.
The gathering in Male’ featured live music and dance performances, and saw many young men and women in the crowds dancing together.
Despite the event’s popularity with youth in Male’, Chair of Hope for Women, Aneesa Ahmed, said the poor turnout from government officials “showed their lack of commitment” in tackling the issue of violence against women.
“We have been working alongside the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights, and they have invited all government agencies and ministries, but I have hardly seen any of them here,” she said.
“I really don’t know what to say – the commitment is just not there. In the last few years nothing has really been done to help this particular cause,” Aneesa said.
Speaking to Minivan News, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad said that the government was a broad entity consisting of many ministries and that he had not been aware of any specific invite to members of the government.
“As I understand, Acting Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights] Dr Mariyam Shakeela attended. Some other ladies from the the government were there,” he said.
Masood said a member of staff from the President’s Office had also attended the event, as he had “skipped a meeting he was supposed to attend”.
Last month a study by Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) found that support for women’s equality in the country had experienced a “significant drop”.
The report found that fewer respondents – compared to the 2005 survey – believed that women should have equal rights to men.
“I am particularly happy because there were so many young people here, it is very encouraging. These people will stand up against violence, they are going to be a very strong force.
“In the past few years we have this increasing influence of conservatism in the country and because of this the older generation are more cautious about coming to such an event. Things like dancing, as you see today, we are not supposed to do this,” Aneesa added.
Speaking at the event, Heat Health and Fitness Managing Director Aishath Afra Mohamed spoke about her concerns regarding violence against women in the Maldives.
“Some men are trying to keep their wives in the house, they don’t want women to work and socialise with their friends. They are very possessive.
“The rate of violence is going up and women are keeping quiet about it here. But this event is good to see, the more we make light of the matter, the better it will be,” Afra added.