Legislation passed for special assistance for the disabled

Parliament today passed legislation to provide financial assistance and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Of the 53 MPs in attendance, 52 voted to pass the bill, while one abstained.

Presenting the committee report, Fuahmulah South MP Ahmed Maseeh Mohamed, said a bill proposed by the government in July to protect the rights of the disabled was combined with a bill submitted by Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed on providing monetary assistance to people with disabilities.

A sub-committee selected to review the legislation consulted with the Maldivian Thalassemia Association, Care Society and senior officials of the ministry of health as well as the attorney general’s office.

Once ratified, a council will be formed and entrusted with compiling a national database on the disabled, protecting the rights of the disabled, overseeing monitoring centres, formulating guidelines for their operation, addressing complaints and compiling an annual report.

The government will provide financial assistance of a minimum of Rf2,000 (US$155) a month for disabled persons.

The law states that the disabled should be given special protection in work places and cannot be discriminated against in the provision of employment.

It further calls for the establishment of a special educational centre for the disabled and for the government to provide free education for disabled persons up to the age of 18.

All government schools will be required to establish facilities for the disabled and no one shall be denied an education due to a disability.

Persons found guilty of harassing or mocking disabled persons are liable to be fined between Rf5,000 (US$389) to Rf10,000 (US$778).

Further, public places, such as supermarkets and parks, are required to have facilities such as ramps to enable access for disabled people.

Maldivian citizens with disabilities are among the most marginalised people in society. A study conducted in 2008 found that 25 per cent of children with disabilities in Haa Alifu and Haa Dhaal never left their homes.

The bill was passed today with three amendments proposed by Kelaa MP Abdullah Mausoom of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

Among the amendments were making people with disabilities on the national registry eligible for the monthly benefits without evaluating the extent of their disabilities.

Mausoom’s most contentious amendment was to make children with thalassemia eligible for the monthly benefits.

During the debate on the two bills, several MPs supported providing financial benefits to families with thalassemia children.

“Parents will have the option of not including their children on the list or registry,” said Mausoom.

The amendment was passed with 35 in favour, two against and 19 abstentions.

During the final debate before the vote, MPs on the committee said the thalassemia association objected to including thalassemia patients in a bill for persons with disabilities.

Maseeh, chairman of the committee, said the bill was based on article 35(b), which states “disadvantaged people are entitled to protection and special assistance from the family, the community and the state”.

He added the bill clearly specified people with disabilities in terms of psychological and physical disabilities who face difficulties in society.

“The bill is formulated to provide financial and special assistance to people with disabilities,” he said. “That is why the Maldivian Thalassemia Association said they do not want children with thalassemia to be given that label.”

Defending his amendment, Mausoom said the purpose of the legislation was providing “special assistance”, which includes families facing financial burdens to treat their children with thalassemia.

Thulusdhoo MP Rozaina Adam said the title of the legislation would not matter to families of children with thalassemia.

Most MPs spoke of the importance of allocating funds for the financial benefits in next year’s budget to ensure that the laws are enforced.


6 thoughts on “Legislation passed for special assistance for the disabled”

  1. i congratulate the majlis for passing this bill. However some questions remain
    1)what will be the definition of disability in Maldives.
    2)which authority will administer this 2000mrf assistance
    3)what is the potential for abuse
    4)Will people with moderate disabilities will get left out
    5)will the aid be feasible and sustainable over long term
    6)will it reach the intended people.
    7)or wil create financial dependency

    the majlis memebers seems to be preoccupied about monetary benefits aspect.
    they could also have considerd a structured benefit based on severity and functional limitation of the disabled

  2. It’s really a milestone to have this bill passed. However, it’s really unfortunate that people with disabilities are not defined and other disadvantaged groups like thalassemia children are included in the category. Sometimes it’s a questionable whether the Parliamentarians really do research on the International Conventions that Maldives is party to which gives protection to the citizens of Maldives. The domestic laws should be in line with such Conventions. How can the Parliamentarians debate Thalassemia children to be included amongst children with disabilities? It shows the lack of knowledge of the Parliamentarians about specific issues that challenges the Maldivian society. Parliamentarians should make an effort to seek information while passing such important bills.

  3. I advised Care Society to send their recommendations directly to Majlis. I knew with my experience that by the time the policies and bills about people with disabilities go to Majlis or decision-making level; it will be unchanged due to lack of knowledge and expertise. I am just shocked by the bill that the Parliament passed today, even though the Parliamentarians think they did a good job!!
    I seriously think Parliamentarians should be given training on human rights and social issues in the country!! I am offering such training to you all Parliamentarians, if you will allow me 🙂

  4. The author of the article should also be clear that the bill passed today is 'Khaasa ehee ah beynunvaa meehun' so its not a bill passed on provisions of special assistance for the disabled as highlighted in the title. The article is misleading when you say that.

  5. Whats the difference between a diabetic patient and Thalassemia patients. Both needs life long treatment and with treatment can lead a normal life. Thalassemia being ubiquitous such a heterogeneous disease, I wonder , those who wrote this bill has any clue on what they are talking. Sickle cell disease and Hemoglobin E disease are also life long transfusion dependent patients, and there are patients who get regular transfusion on all these cases in Maldives. Are we going to exclude them from this bill, as the bill say to give assistance to Thalassemia patients.

  6. What about fahboe meehun..they also need life long assistance, i say lets give 5000 rufiyaa permonth to each partey to buy fah...Drug users should also be included in disabled people as well as all members of care society.


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