One in seven Maldivian secondary students have been sexually abused, finds 2009 report

Almost one in seven children of secondary school age in the Maldives have been sexually abused at some time in their lives, according to an unpublished 2009 study on violence against children.

Rates of sexual abuse for girls are almost twice as high than for boys at 20 percent – one in five girls have been sexually abused – while the figure for boys was 11 percent. Girls are particularly at risk in the capital Male’, the report found.

The National Study of Violence Against Children, produced by UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender and Family and conducted by global research firm TNS, was heavily cited at last week’s Conference on Child Protection held at Bandos.

The stud – currently unofficial – is the first large-scale national study on the issue of physical and emotional punishment against children in the Maldives, interviewing almost 17,035 people in 2500 households as well as 2000 children in schools.

The study found that 47 percent of Maldivian children under the age of 18 have undergone physical or emotional punishment at home, school or in the community.

“The use of emotional punishment is considerably wide-spread and is also supported by the
parents’ beliefs that this is an effective way of teaching children the proper behaviour,” the report found.

Boys were more susceptible to physical punishment while large numbers of girls at secondary school level reported emotional punishment. Eight percent of school students, mostly boys, reported physical punishment from their school teachers.

Physical violence was more common among students attending secondary school in the atolls, with one in four reporting they had been hit by adults or other children during the past year. The figure for Male’ was 14 percent.

30 percent of children at secondary school reported being hit by at least one of their caregivers, while 21 percent said at object had had been used to do this.

A quarter of all carefivers said they believed that physical punishment had a positive effect on the rearing of children..

Furthermore, “children who suffer from a handicap – however light – have experienced
significantly more emotional punishment than children without such handicaps,” the report said.

The study also revealed a lingering distrust of authorities and their ability to deal with issues relating to physical or sexual abuse of children.

“When aware of a case of abuse in the community, the majority [of respondents] chose to not
inform the authorities, not [to] cause any trouble and/or due to limited belief in the efficiency of
the system.”

The report identified that despite high awareness of the issue, the cultural background of the Maldivia society “does not particularly prohibit emotional or physical punishment of children.” Efforts to increase the level of discussion were “hampered by the notion that such events should be solved in the home and not discussed publicly.”

Resolution of cases within the legal system was a particular change for the Maldives, especially cases involving child sexual abuse.

“The victim itself might turn out to be made liable for such an event and might be subjected itself to penal proceedings if the perpetrator does not plead guilty or four witnesses for the prosecution cannot be found,” the report noted.

It urged the education of caregivers as to the negative impact of violence against children, and highlighted particular discrepencies in the education system.

“Over 30 percent of teachers in the Maldives are untrained because 80 percent of staff training costs are transport related. In a country where 70 percent of the population lives on islands far from the capital, and where transport among islands can be prohibitively expensive, many children are at the risk of being invisible,” the report warned.

The report also produced some interesting demographic findings about the structure of the Maldivian families. In 24 percent of cases, a child’s male caregiver is not their biological father – in seven percent of cases, this role is performed by an older brother, and only rarely (two percent) by a stepfather or uncle. 87 percent of children have their biological mother as a caregiver.

A quarter of all children reported health difficulties. The majority of these concerned problems seeing, and to a lesser extent, “walking or climbing stairs”.

Domestically, arguments between children and their caregivers in the home revolve around fairly universal themes: watching TV (10 percent), household chores (10 percent), homework (12 percent), and staying up late (seven percent).

The main source of domestic arguments for girls were household chores (15 percent) – the second highest source of friction for boys was hairstyle (12 percent).

The 24 hour toll-free Maldives Child Helpline is available on 1412.


19 thoughts on “One in seven Maldivian secondary students have been sexually abused, finds 2009 report”

  1. im nt suprised..the state of mst mldivan secoundary scchls are far wrse than they apper to be seen , the truth is the schools them selves hide the incients from the public eye.drugss , alsohol , sexual abuse , teacher porn are all there,the public are aimply fooled by most schools,it a sad story....

  2. JJ, How can you write an article about an unpublished study? How can we accept the reliability of this study if it is not published for the public to see it. For god's sake do some evidence based journalism.

  3. The best way to address this is to face it straight on. Do not try to hide the facts.

    There is no gain by giving a blind eye to what happens every day. regularly, for a fact. Children getting abused. Teenage girls undergoing abortions under very unhealthy conditions, girls getting whipped for having sex, while the boys who participated almost never get punished, many do not believe religion, many do not fast during ramazan, drugs use on the rise, etc.

    As a society we need to address these. I dont particularly condone harsh punishments, but we need facilitate and create a system where the victims, the wrong doers, and all affected by these actions/events, can be coached back into society.

    The girl need not be punished for having sex, if you cant prosecute a murderer, drug dealer. The worst crimes need top priority.

    A guy having a playboy magazine gets 6 months banishment, when all you need to do is surf the internet for 3 seconds, and you have access to hardcore porn. This is a reality; facts. How to address this? You certainly cannot banish the whole generation of internet users. Be realistic before enacting stupid and useless laws. Change idiotic laws to be practical.

    The ignorance level in society, which tags on a lot of social harmony, can only be improved by providing a systematic education, which trained teachers.

    Dont be bogged down with religion. Its a connection between you and god. Dont force it onto others. Be optimistic. The kids will learn right and wrong themselves when they grow up, and align themselves with what's right.

    As a society, concentrate on creating a healthy environment with jobs, good pay scales, housing. I wish the mullahs would help in city planning, resolving social issues instead of spending all their time giving religious and intimidatory speeches. Make your speeches lighter, given hope to kids, work with government to find them work...

  4. This is a useful article, I believe accurately written, on a very important subject for Maldivians.

    But like the problem of the judiciary not been good and independent, this is a cultural problem for Maldives. As everyone knows, it will take years and years to change a country.

    One of the reasons for the widespread sexual abuse of children and young people is lack of decent hobbies, recreational and sports facilities for people. Sex is a free and widely available hobby for Maldivians.

  5. Ismail,,that is the most sensible comment I have ever seen regarding these subjects..Just open up your society and join the modern world.You would all have noticed that the young people in Egypt/Libya etc are wanting to modernise their lifestyles,it doesn't mean losing their faith or their customs,it just means they want to better their lives in the modern world.Education [in all things, including sex education]must be the priority.Once people are educated they should be able to see the rights and wrongs in their lives..After that--let them be judged..

  6. what do you mean at home? We were abused in school sexually and otherwise.

    I remember reporting it to our grade supervisors even. She didn't do anything but she acknowledged that she knew of the matter.

    Dudes!!! it's more than common that 1 of 7.

  7. So many bad things are happening in our households. Often poor and uneducated parents do not know how to deal with issues like drugs, child, abuse, corruption...because they are not only uneducated but, to make matters worse, they think nothing is going wrong.

    Most households in Male have a drug addict but parents would not never see it that way.. Its only others who are bad. Their kid is good.. This formula has corrupted the nation..

    Its time to bring the parents to their senses.. not drug addicts..

  8. Are these the Maldivians who claim to be 100% Muslims? Where are the Mullahs? Why the deafening silence?

    Where are the demonstrations against these sins and those that conduct these abuses? C'mon Mullah Ilyas. Let me hear you condemn this! Where are the Salafs??

  9. “The victim itself might turn out to be made liable for such an event and might be subjected itself to penal proceedings if the perpetrator does not plead guilty or four witnesses for the prosecution cannot be found,” the report noted. The report failed to note the reason for this, which is Islam. It is mandatory for a rape victim who becomes pregnant to be charged with fornication. To establish rape she will have to produce 4 male witnesses with 8 non-defective eyes among them to testify that they had witnessed the rape. If the girl was not wearing hijab while she was raped and was out of her home without being accompanied by a mahram (very close male relative) she would be accused of tempting the perpetrator to rape her. He would then be totally absolved of any wrong-doing. All guilt would be transferred to the victim who will be convicted and flogged 100 times. That is the law in Maldives. The report has to assign blame where it is due.

  10. It is not just the poor and uneducated. Sexual abuse amongst girls transcends social and economic boundaries. Even girls from good, loving households face sexual abuse through extended family and their friends. This, along with drug abuse, are the two biggest social issues our country faces.

    I'm sad its taken this long to do a study. I'm sad that even after two years, the study is not widely available. This habit of keeping information close to one's chest is unacceptable. This habit of keeping the public in the dark as to the state of the nation is unacceptable. But the reality is that this closedness is endemic to our entire governance system (and yes the UN as well).

    Of course the Police are probably the best at covering up incidents, because they feel as though it would be chaos if people find out the truth. If people know how many stabbings, how much abuse, how many threats are reported - then it looks as if this country is unsafe. Well gentlemen, guess what? Everyone already knows its not safe. Its time we have monthly reports of every crime committed and every action taken.

  11. A good and much needed eye opener JJ!
    But the question is could or would bureaucracy allow a sweeping job?

    I am most certain they cannot! And I am sure most readers know why!

  12. I find a lot of parents today don't have the time or resources to give their children a good upbringing. Most parents actually don't quite grasp the huge responsibility they are undertaking when they decide or in a lot of cases accidentally have a child. They don't give a thought to bringing a life into this world totally ignoring the total commitment they have to give a child. Their lives are too busy. So why bring them into the world in the first place if you can't take good care and protect them from all the abuse in the world?

  13. It sickens that the sexually abused is too afraid to tell anybody because that person is going to get blamed. If daddy did it, then the girl cannot tell her mother otherwise it would ruin the marriage.

  14. it is the system, religious teaching religious law practiced in the Maldives is the most worse player for all the above mentioned report.

    First and the foremost is the religious teachings in the name of Qur'an education give over importance to Sexual practice in Life that the weight it has to be given. This is the first place the children get to know about sex, and here most of the young mind is mis-leaded and create anxiety to the subject

    Secondly, even though the community is claimed to be 100% Islam, they are not aware of the clauses in with sex is been explained and the punishment for illegal sex, adultery and fornication especially the divine punishment on the Day of Judgement.

    As a result most men and women 85% - 95% undergo sex beyond wedlock. a severe sin which will invite death (eternal hellfire) in the Judgement day as per the laws given to Mosses, if Islam believes in prophet mosses this law is key to practice.

    the system which punish only the women in sexual intercourse is giving all the freedom to tempt and force innocent ladies to get in to the evil track which lead them to lay down. this law of witness of 4 men was established after the doubt of Aisha's adultery and this was to protect her dignity, which is very necessary to have a logical debate, with piratical issues.

    One may not have any doubt that the sexual abuse in offices in Male is a center of Adultery and a majority of women are been tempted with better position and comfort levels due to the ambitious nature of woman. but the innocent ladies are not aware about the sin behind this illegal sex. most husband are also tent to block his eyes and ears to this situation as all most all of them had committed one of the sexual abuse in their life and balance it with his wives fantasies. i can bet this to be true if we can conduct a sincere interview of adult of the age of 18 or above.

    Lastly the easy divorce opportunity in the country force the women to undergo adultery after the separation, major reason is she looks for a life partner desperately and is impossible to find one with out having sex with several men. the result is several man get the chance to lay them down and finally 80% of these poor lady left alone. secondly as Holly books insisted Divorce is a sin which make the women commit adultery due to her frustration and her desperate need of sexual requirement as the religious teaching give her the freedom to think sex as a basic necessity like, food , water and shelter. where as this is totally a wrong teaching. because sex is a feeling coming from inside the human body through some chemical reactions where as all others are universal truth.

  15. The system which punishes only the women involved in sexual intercourse in case if she is only "PREGNANT" is giving all the freedom to tempt and force innocent ladies to get in to the evil track which lead them to lay down. the law of witness of 4 men was established after the doubt of Aisha’s adultery and this was to protect her dignity, As this law is very poor to control adultery & fornication which are treated as the most primary sin which invites death (hellfire) on the Day of Judgement, this contradicts with the Law's given to mosses, hence we have to thing that this law give lenience to commit the worse sin and is which is very critical and necessary to have a logical debate, with piratical issues.


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