More than 1000 cases of child abuse reported in 2011

Between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported to the Gender Department from atoll family and children service centres.

1,005 cases involved minors while 133 cases involved victims aged 18 and above.

A majority of cases (348) involved children aged 11 to 15; 30 percent of these cases were classified as sexual abuse.

Approximately one-third of the 81 cases involving children less than one year old involved neglect. Sexual abuse was reported in a quarter of the 192 cases for age group one to five, and in a fifth of the 230 cases age group five to ten.

Acting Head of the Child and Family Protection Services Aishath Ahmed said the report said more about the record keeping system than the issue itself.

“I would say the statistics show an improvement in the reporting system because people are more aware of how to file a report. I don’t think the situation is getting better, as far as I know the number of cases is increasing,” she said, explaining the report only accounted for cases reported.

However, Ahmed said people are less hesitant about filing reports than they were five years ago.

“Back then people didn’t want to report the cases, they didn’t want to get involved in other people’s business. But now they can report anonymously,” said Ahmed, explaining that island residents were also filing reports more regularly.

“Before, some people believed that only sexual penetration constituted child abuse,” she explained. “Now, they know more about the different kinds of abuse. The definition of sexual abuse is also clearer, so they can distinguish.”

Child abuse cases are divided between four categories: sexual, physical, psychological and neglect. Statistics show that 57 percent of abuse cases reported were physical. Ahmed said the second most common form of abuse was neglect (17.4 percent).

Family problems such as domestic violence, runaways and complications due to divorce were identified in 14.1 percent of the cases. Behavioral problems including teen pregnancy, self-mutilation, attempted suicide and anger management accounted for another 14 percent of reported cases.

In it’s own report, Human Rights Commission Maldives (HRCM) yesterday said its offices had received 500 complaints of human rights violations in the past year, 74 of which involved the social protection of children, elderly and disadvantaged people.

HRCM is one of several organisations with which individuals may file a report on child abuse in the Maldives.

A report submitted to the United Nations by HRCM in July this year found that physical discipline in some schools qualifies as abuse.

“For instance, the investigation carried out by HRCM on Lale’ International School (2010) made apparent that number of students experienced physical and psychological abuse in the school. Some of the findings include abuses such as strangling and whipping children with belts. The findings of HRCM were further validated when the Criminal Court in August 2010 found the former principal of the school, guilty of assaulting children and sentenced him to pay Rf200 (US $12.97 ) as fine under article 126 of the Penal Code.”

Staff of Lale’ School, including the deputy principle, fled the Maldives in 2010 over allegations of child abuse and other misconducted, which was investigated by HRCM.

Article 10 of the Law on Protection of the Rights of the Child states that punishment in schools should be age-appropriate and should not affect them physically or psychologically.

According to Ahmed, child abuse has a lasting impact on the individual and the community.

The aftermath of abuse can vary by the age of the victim and the severity of the treatment. “If a child has experienced repeated sexual abuse, then as the child approaches sexual maturity she or he may have a difficult time adjusting within the age group. Physically abused children may also develop violent habits in their own marriages later in life,” said Ahmed.

Abusive behavior can also impact children’s social development. “It affects education as well. Children who have been abused sometimes can’t cope with their peers, and they might lash out or withdraw. They may have a hard time paying attention in school,” she explained.

HRCM’s report said the Ministry of Education (MoE) acknowledged that school monitoring and inspection was insufficient.

“Due to the fact that corporal punishment is existent in the education system, it is important that the MoE come up with a discipline policy where it could provide clear guidelines disciplinary actions/corrective measures in schools. It is equally significant that all staffs, including teachers are sensitized to the rights of the child and other related rights that are relevant while working in the education sector.”

HRCM’s action plan includes the public outreach campaign ‘Every Neglect is an Abuse’. The commission has also released handouts informing citizens of the United Nations’ Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), of which the Maldives is a signatory.

Last week, the Maldives recognised “World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse: Every Neglect is an Abuse“. Children’s festivals were organised by government groups and NGOs including the Child Abuse Prevention Society (CAPS), HRCM, the Ministry of Education, the Department of Gender and Family, Maldives Police Service, Care Society, Maldives Autism Association, Maldives Red Crescent and Tiny Hearts.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed, who attended both events, said the efforts to raise public awareness of child abuse was an indicator of Maldivian society’s growing concern over the issue. Listing the four categories of abuse–physical, sexual, psychological and neglect–he urged parents not be overly-critical of their children.

When asked if there were sufficient resources for the Maldivian community to address child abuse, Ahmed said the network is growing.

“People can contact the police, NGOs, HRCM, and there’s a Family Protection Unit in IGMH [Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital]. The cases are also forwarded to us, and we review them to see how best to address them,” she said.

Ahmed explained that a series of interviews, visits and follow-up reports are conducted to evaluate a claim. Sometimes the situation is not as severe as initially reported. “We may close a case when we feel there is no further assistance we can provide, but we rarely close a case.”

Child and Family Protection Services will be working to create more awareness throughout the year. A more specific action plan has not yet been drawn up.


19 thoughts on “More than 1000 cases of child abuse reported in 2011”

  1. What a wonderful Islamic society we have here in the Maldives.
    Where are the Mullahs, what have the to say on these issues.
    The Mullahs and Adhalath party are interested how the Bedouins eat and fart.

  2. Blaming socials ills on Mullas does not help, nor solve the problem. Infact Mullas are the wrong target.

    Here is a typical household scene.

    Both parents go to work leaving the kids at the mercy of naive people including in laws, who spent all their time fixed to TV sets.

    Sometimes grandparents do not have the inteligence to know when the child is abused in the next room by some one showing them pornorgaphy.

    Even when abuse is suspected, the issue is sweapt under the carpet. Because neither side of the family would take the blame.

    Apart from physical absue, kids are kept long hours in small confined households because there is no where to go.

    Sometimes parents do not know when verbally they absue the kids. Unless both mothers and fathers are educated, this problem will persist.

    How many times mothers and fathers shout and belittle their kids in front of the whole family.

  3. Unlike other countries, in Maldives child abuse happens right at home. Often the relatives are the culprits.

    Child abuse in Male is an ugly consequense of small confined living spaces, preassure to make a living and ignorance.

  4. What an angelic society. Pure white.
    Grand mullahs advocate heavily to the point to harassment, to follow the child molestation of the leader.

  5. Most abuse takes place between individuals who already know each other, or within households. This is not specific or limited to the Maldives.

    As demonstrated by the Saudis, the solution is to dress them up as Penguins. It is equally effective on both women and children. This is because human beings typically do not find penguins sexually attractive.

  6. poor defenseless children...over 1100 cases in 2011 alone and that is not counting unreported cases... just sickening 🙁

    shame on you peadophiles and abusers... Allah sees all.

  7. the so called religious leaders of this community are the first to raise their voices the moment a woman is wanting in their eyes in the way they dress. Most of the abuse cases are sexual and then mostly by men. Why do the religious leaders not raise their voices against such atrocities. Or do they blame the children for raising the mens evil senses?

  8. "Violence against children knows no boundaries. Violence cuts across race, religion, class and culture. In every country of the world there are children who continue to fear and experience violence. No country is immune"- first words in the forward of "Eliminating Violence Against Children- a handbook for parliamentarians"-UNICEF

    so cut the crap, and stop bashing muslims or people dressed in blue with orange spots....Lets focus on what we can do as a community to stop this.I reserve my weekend to show kindness to the children in Vilingili hiya. what are you going to do?

  9. Sick beyond belief.. I would like to hear once the religious scholars coming out and showing their anger at this... They are busy wrapping women in parcels... their argument, if men see women's flesh, this arouses the sexual desires of men...

    What about these innocent children? What advances did they make to deserve this cruelty? Shame on a society we're failing day by day..

  10. @father on Tue, 22nd Nov 2011 8:16 PM

    Not correct,child abuse happens at home in all countries not just in the Maldives. The majority of sexual predators of children are relatives in every society. The majority of homicides happen in the home as well.

    This is the travesty of child sexual abuse and domestic violence, the betrayal by people we trust and love, parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, friends of family etc.

  11. Many abuses are perpetrated by close relatives, not the servants. Many times fathers, step father, uncle, brother, cousin.. I cannot tolerate when we blame the lack of space as the reason for instigating abuse especially by the relatives. I know there is little recreation available in Male. The servants are also abused and I'll treated.

  12. One of the core issue is we have a lot of unwanted kids. They come to this world as a result of pleasure. Even before that, we marry for wrong reasons or without knowing their responsibility in procreation.

  13. "Crap", i agree with you completely. you cant blame lack of space or lack of i-phone, etc for abuse. there is NO EXCUSE for abuse or violence period. we should have ZERO TOLERANCE to this and ensure children are safe and perpetrators are locked up for good.
    i also agree that a lot of kids are unwanted, and people who wish to engage in sex should be responsible and take precautions not to get pregnant

  14. there are ABSOLUTELY NO excuses for this kind of atrocity...grown men are the problem because they cant contol their libido.

    Stop blaming women or even worse, children about the arousal thing, you lame, senseless abusers...get a life.

    Women and children, stand up and defend yourselves and do speak up about this.

    It must stop.

  15. First and foremost, we have to strengthen our laws for the protection of our children and IMPLEMENT them... Like a clock work... RULE OF LAW UPHELD.

    From the 1000 and more cases ...
    -how many have been investigated, charged...
    -how many will get their deserving sentences...
    -how long will the sentences be
    -Will come Independence day r some other day the pesos be pardoned?
    -Will they be out thru parole?
    -Wht is the seriousness given to the protection of our children when there is an MP accused/charged for child abuse sitting in the parliament... and neither the parliament members nor the judiciary or the govt seems to care about this outrageous acceptance of pedophiles...

    Without JUSTICE being served severely and systematically... such sick people will keep doing their evil... cos they will keep getting away with it...

    Society at large needs to stand together, AS ONE, against the ease by which this issue is handled...

  16. Reading the comments above alone is enough to give an indication of the diversity of views on child abuse. It is proof of the limited understanding of the issue in Maldives.

    Rather than emotional and subjective bias (which is understandable), there does not seem to be a holistic approach to finding a solution.

    Failure to address the issue means the Maldives have failed to its children.

  17. Kids should have the right to be kids. That means space to run, play, freedom to walk to school and be with freinds etc.. This was indeed how it used to be in Male 40 years ago - something forgotten by the adults of today.

    But now how many people have a backyard or small garden in their house. Now families in Male spent their entire lives confined to tight apartments. Kids live among all undesirable things that goes on. - and you can imagine the result.

    When the drug addict in the family (each family has one) take it, he does it among the kids.

    Child protection law is necessary but not sufficient unless children get a children friendly environment.

  18. In other countries its not as much as what we find here,especially in asia prominence is given to morals and values.......... I being the eldest grandchild grew up with a large family which consisted of 7 uncles and never did any abuse take place, they only protected and cared for me dearly at all times......

    I consider myself absolutely fortunate but the stories I hear in male are ridiculous and these little children would be forever cursing these so called perverts who are relatives......


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