MMC pulls magazine, forwards Sun brothel expose to Prosecutor General

An undercover account of Male’s illegal brothel scene, dubbed ‘Operation Sunset’, has landed Sun in hot water with the Maldives Media Council (MMC) for its lurid details of the experience.

The stories, which initially appeared in Sun’s magazine, reportedly involved three Sun journalists visiting massage parlours in Male’ and soliciting sex from the women in an attempt to expose illegal brothels operating in the capital.

The stories have sparked a public debate on morality and journalism, and prompted the Maldives Media Council (MMC) to call an urgent meeting and demand that the offending edition be pulled from circulation.

Versions of the stories were also published on Sun Online’s website, and are now the site’s most viewed. A source within Sun Online told Minivan News that the content was edited and toned down prior to appearing on site.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said claims made in the article that the operation was conducted with the assistance of police were untrue.

“They called the police media section and said they were checking these places to see if anything illegal was taking place, but they didn’t say how. They have provided no information on these places to police,” Shiyam said, adding that police had also received complaints from the public over the story.

Shiyam confirmed that the case had been sent to the Prosecutor General’s office by the MMC, but did not say whether the subject of the investigation would be the journalists involved, the publication or the alleged brothels.

“We are waiting for the PG to request us to start an investigation,” he said.

President of the MMC Mohamed Nazeef said the council had never before received such a significant volume of complaints following the publication of a story.

“[The complaints] were mainly about the style of presentation, so we decided to ask them to pull the magazine,” Nazeef said, adding that the matter had been forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office “because of the police issues involved.”

The MMC’s policy was to step back when other authorities became involved, he said.

“We have been very cautious because we do not want to kill investigative journalism in the Maldives or undermine the reporting of serious issues,” he said. “But the problem was the style of writing – it was not professional, and the editor has to take responsibility. These are young journalists with little training, and the editors are senior people who have put them in a bad position by saying they have paid [for sexual services].”

Nazeef said he had spoken to the executive editor of both publications, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir, and ascertained that the original article was published in the magazine due to some internal misunderstanding.

“I got the feeling that they asked these boys to do this and write about the experience,” Nazreef said. “I think this is an issue of training. We need to run a course in investigative journalism, perhaps bring in a CNN journalist to talk to them, and offer training on how to cover protests, possibly with someone from the Western Australian police [who trained police in the Maldives].”

Zahir told Minivan News he had no official comment on the matter, and referred Minivan News to the editor of Sun Magazine, Shinan Ali. Ali was not responding at time of press.

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA), of which Zahir is President, has meanwhile issued a statement stating that while some of words and phrases used in the article were “inappropriate for Maldivian society”, the MMC’s decision would “narrow the opportunity for investigative journalism in the Maldives.”

The MMC could have resolved the issue without forwarding the case to the Prosecutor General, the MJA suggested, as illegal prostitution in the Maldives was “something the public needs to be made aware of.”

Lawyer and former Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad suggested to Minivan News that while the media was free to pursue the truth in the Maldives, it was still bound by the need for “ethical” conduct in doing so.

“I believe investigative journalism is about unraveling the truth and truth is protected by law. Our constitution and the democratic system we are working to establish is designed to protect journalists who reveal the truth,” he said.

“Responsible investigative journalism implies not being accountable to the consequences of the revealed truth, but to the ethical propriety [standards] of the revealing of the truth,” he said.


26 thoughts on “MMC pulls magazine, forwards Sun brothel expose to Prosecutor General”

  1. Hell's door is open for you, your 'hedhika's and smoke the cigarettes and take your coffees and eat the betel nuts,spit on roads the betel juice,kill and fornicate like animals,live a dirty existence in this dirty country and prepare your journey to hell!Your little islands are going to be submerged soon thankfully and the world will be saved from another Sodom!

  2. This is all part of the important adolescent phase of a maturing media. Like a child pushing the barriers it will need guidance and discipline.
    Now Hiriga you must take your medicine and be a better boy.

  3. What's wrong is that, in Maldives the journalists are around 19 years of age. Most of them have no experience or any formal education regarding journalism what so ever and this is what would happen when we let loose such inexperience people. Some of these people dont even know what investigative reporting is all about and the so called editors dont know anything as well, which results in such stupid articles being published and trying to sensationalize it. What we need here in the Maldives are people who are more experience and educated. even trash magazines abroad has much better writing than this.
    On top of all this MJ thinks that by investigating the reports would mean it would discourage further "investigative reports and reporters". Why dont MJ first of all get educated themselves instead of trying look like fools in front of us. They first of all take freedom of speech to a new extent and expect the public to side with them. Good luck with that.
    Anyways, I do hope that in the future there would be more experienced people reporting and take responsibility towards their own action.

  4. “Responsible investigative journalism implies not being accountable to the consequences of the revealed truth, but to the ethical propriety [standards] of the revealing of the truth,” he said.

    That ship, sadly has sailed. To me, the propaganda which is passed off as journalism in Maldives is much more disgusting. The "special reports", we see during the evening news are nothing more than opinions passed off as fact. The usual diatribe (or fawning praise) is chanted every evening, quoting anonymous sources or the "opposition".

    Dubious journalism is much more dangerous than most people realize. The CIA in the 1950's successfully got the Iranian people to depose the democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh through propaganda. They (CIA) has since admitted that many articles on Iranian papers were written in the US and sent to Iran for publishing. Today, Keiko Fujimori of Peru is campaigning and winning; people seem to have forgotten that her father was the murderous ex-dictator. She is being buoyed by Dads wealthy friends who control 80% of Peruvian media.

    In Maldives we have MNBC One who can't find any negative news about the govt. and DhiTV / VTV which can turn anything into a negative. In certain households, depending on the political affiliation, some channels are banned. This can't be helpful for anybody, with either fawning sycophants or ranting cranks -our media only serves to polarize the population rather than fulfill the need for their existence, which is to report the news.

    Even where there are no political issues, the quality of the reporting is woeful. The unfortunate benighted journalists who took part in the "operation" are in the news. However, there is scant reporting about the brothels they "heroically" busted, the possibility of the women employed there being trafficked, the extent to which these places were patronized and other implications such as the possibility of venereal diseases being spread. At least these boys accomplished their "mission"; can't say the same about our mainstream media, at least not of their purported mission.

    Rant over.

  5. The way the articles were presented by journalists of operation sunset was completely new to Maldives. Apparently the public enjoyed the graphic details of the erotic experiences of the journalists. It has also ccrossed a barrier towards freedom of expression in a truthful and sincere manner instead of presenting reports which hides the most important part of the stories.

    It is ridiculous that mmc wants writers prosecuted for reporting the truth! The ethics of journalism is to report whole stories and stop painting false side of stories just because it serves a conservative agenda.

  6. @Alibeyya

    "The way the articles were presented by journalists of operation sunset was completely new to Maldives. Apparently the public enjoyed the graphic details of the erotic experiences of the journalists."

    Beyya, I suggest you dig a little bit into the rich Dhivehi literature. There are some very saucy fiction out there. Some of these go back a long time.

    I read the reports of these Sun journalists. They totally lost the plot of investigative journalism. Their failure is that they actually participated in the acts they were trying to expose. The graphic nature of their stories do not matter at all. What matters is the fact, that they actually engaged in fornication and have admitted that to the whole world!

    Now, that's a totally unacceptable and they have to face trial and the outcome seems a foregone conclusion, since they've already admitted guilt.

    I've never ever heard of such a case of "investigative" journalism. Much more sinister and dangerous activities have been exposed by journalists throughout the world without actually break the law.

    It's reprehensible that there are openly operating massage parlours in this squalid place called Male. It's even more ludicrous that so-called "journalists" paid and received "services" from these joints and published the gory details in the press. Exposing the joints is one thing, but actually taking part in their sordid business is a totally different thing.

  7. .. reporters needs urgent medical attention!! so it would help them identifying the difference between investigative journalism and erotic toilet stories .. thank you

  8. MJA + SUN = Hirigaa Zahir, the man who never knew what freedom of expression or Investigative journalism were when he was writing on Haveer for Zahir Hussein and Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom in the famous 30 years dictatorship. Appears that he's trying to do the same again. Writes as he deem on SUN and uses MJA to defend that. Grow up Hirigaa!

  9. @Shahid Z. The nutter is a religious freak who probably considers himself a proud citizen of the Islamic Nation of Waziristan.

  10. The Sun (UK version, not the local news) is known for investigative journalism alongside news of the world. When they exposed Faria Alam as a high class hooker, the alleged mistress of Sven Erikson when he was the manager of England, they didnt go to the extent of actually having sex with her. They politely backed down when she named her price and started stripping. What our local media calls journalists are just glorified 'writers'. They have never attended a journalism class let alone a professional degree.

  11. My opinion is that what the Sun journalists did was not wrong per se, but something that shouldn't have been carried out in a country that forbids such actions by law. Don't hide behind the press card after breaking the law.

    It also came across as good advertisement for the sex industry in the Maldives. We're more likely to createa few more pimps and clients from writing about it the way Sun did.

  12. This is a turning point in journalism in Maldives: this is the first article people just had to read, no matter what! If this does not show the power of journalism, i dont know what will.

    I loved the articles of operation sunset. I found myself wanting to do some journalism myself..

  13. Not tasted any hedhikaa, eaten no nuts, enjoyed no smoke or caffeine, no experience of non of the etceteras!
    Am afraid! Maybe questioned as to why, they were not tried when given the opportunity?
    Then what ?

  14. peasant you are right. How can the journalists themselves take ethics seriously when the media organisations employing them don't do this? It is the same all over the world, media organisations reflect the political stance/views of their CEOs. Also, any subject tabloid in nature is likely to be very popular among the general readership. It is a sad reflection of our society when subjects such as this are given more importance than legitimate social issues. Why aren't people more alarmed at the existence of brothels in Male, rather than just the journalists that exposed them?

  15. The Ex-Katheeb of Dh. Bandidhoo is a senior member of Sun. And that shall explain a lot ....

  16. @anon

    "Why aren’t people more alarmed at the existence of brothels in Male, rather than just the journalists that exposed them?

    Because they broke the law and proudly and publicly proclaimed that fact! If that's not kicking the law in the nuts, I don't know what is! It's as if, these "journalists" said out on the street, "Hey, I just fornicated; I know it's against your law, but what are you going to do about it"?

  17. @anon

    All you say is true but I can't help but feel there is misplaced outrage on this issue. If the so-called journalists broke the law then they deserve to be shamed just like all the other fornicators. As a citizen of Male, I am more alarmed that there is a "brothel scene" more than knowing there are horny gullible fools willing to risk contracting STDs. Btw at what point does a "brothel scene" turn into a red light district? isn't it basically the same thing?

  18. "Because they broke the law and proudly and publicly proclaimed that fact!"

    This fact is not lost. These guys have signed off the confessions online already, so it is an open and shut case isn't it?

    The question the asked is, whether the bigger issue here is the "fornication" by these chaps or the widespread sex business in Male?

  19. @peasant

    "The question the asked is, whether the bigger issue here is the
    “fornication” by these chaps or the widespread sex business in Male?"

    That business is of course the bigger issue. Seems like there's no one who'd take responsibility for stopping them. The Health Ministry just washed their hands off this saying they're not responsible for regulating "massage" centres.

    One thing is for sure; these businesses will come back, no matter what you do. After all, they're running the oldest "profession" in the world. They'd survive a nuclear disaster along with cockroaches...

  20. @Addu Ahamma beyya

    One thing is for sure; these businesses will come back, no matter what you do. After all, they’re running the oldest “profession” in the world. They’d survive a nuclear disaster along with cockroaches…

    That's the reason why we should think seriously about licensing brothels where service would be made available to non muslims. Currently alcohol consumption is only for non muslims.

  21. These girls that work in these massage parlours/brothels,are they 'willing employees'!! or are they young girls brought in with the promise of work,and then forced into prostitution..Every day,back here in the UK,we hear of police raids on brothels where they almost always find young girls brought in from china/eastern europe by criminal gangs on the promise of a good job but brought in solely to be forced into the sex industry..I would have thought that a small island like Male,would be able to monitor and stop this sort of thing...Good Luck ???

  22. @Larry-

    We will get there, after we deal with the horror of fornicating journalists, followed by acknowledging and ascertaining the extent of the sex trade and finally we will have to muster some empathy for the plight of sex workers and accept them as human beings.


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