HRCM raises concern over growing religious conservatism in Universal Period Review

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has submitted its Universal Period Review (UPR) report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), raising concerns over a growing tide of religious conservatism.

“There are roughly 400 children being withheld from attending school by their parents due to religious beliefs,” revealed the report made public yesterday, referring to an estimate from the education ministry in a 2011 assessment by the HRCM on child participation.

In a section titled ‘religious extremist ideologies,’ the HRCM referred to “reports of unregistered marriages encouraged by some religious scholars claiming that registering marriages with the courts are un‐Islamic and unnecessary.”

“State institutions acknowledge this information and raised concerns that children born to such marriages could face serious legal issues. Similarly women in such marriages are bound to face social and legal consequences,” the report stated.

“Conservative beliefs that promote women as inferior to men are being spread at an alarming level. Many women believe that their role in society is to be submissive wives and in raising children.”

In addition to outlining 18 thematic areas, the report provides updates on implementation of recommendations of the first UPR review in 2010, the HRCM noted.

The UPR is a state-driven process that reviews the human rights records of all 193 UN member states every four years, based on submissions by the government, the UN, NGOs and human rights commissions. The Maldives’ review is scheduled to take place in April or May 2015.


Increase in religious conservatism, cultural norms and stereotypical roles depicted by society inhibit women’s equitable participation in public life,” reads the section on women’s rights.

“Women remain under represented in all branches of the state and efforts to secure legislative quotas remain unsuccessful.”

The enforcement of the anti-Domestic Violence (DV) Act was meanwhile hampered by absence of procedures, inconsistencies in application by institutions, and “lack of sensitivity among law enforcement and judiciary”.

The police also failed to meet a legislative deadline on submitting a report to the family protection agency (FPA), the report noted.

“Limited capacity of investigators and their belief that such cases are family matters inhibit victims from getting redress,” it continued.

“FPA with a mandate to combat DV is not provided with necessary financial and human resources. Reporting of DV cases remain low as a result of lack of confidence in the system, fear of intimidation by perpetrators, stigmatisation and inadequate information on protection measures. There is no proper reintegration mechanism.”

Despite reports to the contrary from the state for the mid-term assessment of implementation of UPR recommendations, the HRCM said there were “no strict punishments to perpetrators of DV”.

The report observed that children born out of wedlock faced discrimination.

Paternity testing is not admissible evidence in court and such a child would be denied father’s name, inheritance and child maintenance,” it stated.

While most reported cases of child abuse did not result in convictions, victims often “remain re‐victimized due to systemic failures” including “delays in obtaining evidence and overly strict evidentiary requirements.”

“The legal age of consent, along with societal attitudes to treat child abuse as private matter or to force child abuse victim to deny testimony in court to protect family honour as perpetrator is usually a family member providing financial support are factors that cannot be disregarded,” it explained.

“Moreover, state has fallen short to publish child sexual offender‘s registry. Additionally, overall functioning of victim support system is effected due to a weak child protection system that is under resourced, with inconsistencies in capacity and coordination.”

The report also noted that child marriages were registered in some cases as “the Family Act allows marriage of minors under specific conditions.”

Children were also “involved in commercial sex work,” the report noted.

“Many children migrate to Malé from atolls for education, remain vulnerable to domestic servitude and sexual harassment by host families,” the report stated.

Civil and political rights

The report noted the absence of laws to guarantee freedom of expression despite its assurance in the Constitution.

“Parliament Privileges Act can be used to force journalist to reveal their source, which could undermine the constitutional protection that journalists currently enjoy,” the report observed.

“There have been many reports of death threats to media persons and parliament members. State is yet to take realistic action to address these threats. The recent disappearance of Ahmed Rizwan Abdullah, a journalist and human rights advocate is of critical concern.”

The HRCM also raised concerns regarding the Freedom of Assembly Act, including “provisions of geographical limitations, lack of guidance on control of counter assemblies and requirement to accredit reporters.”

Human rights NGOs have faced intimidation from the state, it continued, while worker’s association perform the role of trade unions.

“Union members face numerous difficulties in exercising collective bargaining, tripartite consultations and work stoppage, as proper legal mechanism is not in place for dispute resolution,” the report stated.


12 thoughts on “HRCM raises concern over growing religious conservatism in Universal Period Review”

  1. UNHCR should interview into Israel, not Islamic marriage in Maldives. Nikah can be at a range of ages in Islam, unlike western hypocrisy which states that young adults can not marry yet they have children every day in US and Israel.

  2. The extreme ideologies recently brought to maldives by wahhabies has been the biggest problem this government needs to overcome. However, yaameen needs to take the issue a little more seriously if he want to get along with sez.

    the 400 children mentioned in the report is sure to be barbarians in the next 15 to 20 years to come.

  3. Whenever someone raise question about human rights, US and Israel is blamed, if it is like human rights is something that these counties should only respect. If they violate the human rights, it doesn’t give license to others to disrespect these rights. Also you should not forget US or Israeli never abuse their citizen, probably they go offensive with people who pose threat for their security and interest. Israeli fights with their enemy who wants to wipe them out, USA being the world’s most powerful country has responsibility to fight with evil, be it Ebola, or the cancer of extremism wherever it raises its head and crushing such cancer is not considered as violation of human rights. Child married, indoctrination of children with hatred and instilling fear of hell fire, depriving them education that can make their life good, forcing them to memorize useless mantra are serious abuse of children and those who take the responsibility of their people has obligation to protect the children from such abuse, and if such people don’t take their responsibilities then the free world should act against them. This is how the course of human civilization is set and those who are against it are simply on the wrong side of history.

  4. This country seems to be marching backwards towards a medieval world with medieval beliefs and customs. This is quite a bit at odds with the government agenda of attracting big businesses here and opening up the country to the world. The two do not make sense at all.

    We see calculating men going after their carnal desires in the name of "Islamic marriage". There is nothing "Islamic" about ruining the lives of young girls. It's barbaric!

    Another alarming issue is the planned conversion to Arabic medium of a number of schools. Learning Arabic as a language is not an issue, but once again, churning out school leavers who are entirely "educated" in the Arabic medium doesn't tie with the big plans that the government talks about. The Arab world itself is moving towards English, Chinese and other languages for a good reason! Arabic was the language of science, commerce and religion, but it's place in the world of science and commerce disappeared hundreds of years ago.

    I won't be surprised when in 20 years time, this country will be no more than a medieval tribal land.

  5. God's law protects public from the elite so Elite made their law to protect themselves from public. May god protect the innocent.

  6. If a certain number of people are doing things contrary to the norms of current societal culture and rules, is it the best idea to label them 'religious-conservative' and pressure them into accepting the orthodox culture ? In this modern age where we flaunt ideals of equality, acceptance and democracy we are beginning to resemble the demons we often portray and hope to fight against.

    Not all women are being forced to live this way.And not all people are blindly removing their children from schools to be educated at home. Some of them are making a concious desicion to live according to the way they see the world. Call them tribals or barbarians or whatever you wish, but let them live freely like we preach.

  7. If people get magnetized to religion, this is the deciding marker how desperate and miserable, people are; it means the country is poor, uneducated, unproductive, unhealthy and ugly. Who you blame for this, it is obvious; the main culprits are those who run the country. When people are miserable, they start to find refuge in God, they pray for health, wealth, love and happiness, when their prayers are not heeded, they start blaming irreligious people and get this notion that god do a collective punishment and they blame irreligious people for their misery and they are their enemies, this is the main reason these extremist so much hate irreligious people. If you analyze what these extremists are after; it is always the better life with dignity. The Isis, or those who are calling for Kalifa and Sharia, they believe Sharia gives equality; God has given wealth and Kalifa’s job is to distribute this wealth equally and do the moral policing for God. So the ultimate goal is happiness and good life with dignity. The extremism comes from bad policies on socio economic policies, there is no point talking about this without changing the situation on the ground, Maldives had a chance of such change under Nasheed, but some people with xenophobia have put the country back in to the same slot where it has always been.

  8. @Ghola I agree that it is a crime when children taught useless Mantra, which is in Bhuddism. Mantra is not in Islam, Islam teaches Quran, which is very useful.

  9. Mantra means memorising and blurting out verses and is not related with religion,guess kashim need to return to school to learn English


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