The Maldives Police Service (MPS) yesterday arrested two people suspected of sexually abusing children as the number of cases reported in recent weeks continues to grow.
The latest addition to a series of child abuse arrests in the past weeks saw a 38-year-old man accused of sexually abusing his three-year-old stepdaughter in Hulhudhoo, Seenu atoll.
He was arrested last night from the tourist resort in which he works.
A 51-year-old Indian migrant worker accused of sexually abusing an eleven-year-old boy was also arrested last night from Feeali, in Faafu atoll. Both cases are currently under investigation by the MPS.
While it has been suggested that the rise represents a greater willingness to report existing abuses, the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) has suggested child abuse is rising, urging parents to be more alert.
In the past few weeks, similar incidents across the country have seen police making a number of arrests for alleged abuses including child sex trafficking by a 45-year-old man, and the arrest seven men of age 18 -30 years arrested from Thinadhoo for forcing a 16 year old girl into prostitution
While the cause of this increase has yet to be established, it has been suggested that the current trend may simply reflect an increase in the number of cases being reported – previously, the discussion and reporting of such cases had been considered taboo in the Maldivian community.
Commenting on the issue, Vice President of the HRCM Ahmed Tholal said that the increasing number of child abuses cases is an issue the state should be taken very seriously.
“I believe it is not merely an increase in reporting, I think it is becoming more common. During our trips to twenty two islands around the country for our ongoing National Inquiry on Access to Education for Children with Disabilities , almost in all islands there were cases of physical, mental and sexual abuse of children,” said Tholal.
Other arrests have included a 44-year-old man arrested for exposing himself to a twelve-year-old to whom he had shown pornography, and the case of a 29-year-old man arrested from Rasdhoo for sexually abusing a thirteen year old girl.
A 45 year old man was arrested from Villimalé late last month for sexually abusing his one-year-old daughter and raping two stepdaughters under 12-years of age, while March also saw a 55-year-old man arrested for abusing an 11-yearold girl.
A number of people have also been sentenced for child abuse during this period including a 78 year old man who was sentenced for ten years imprisonment by the Kulhudhufushi Magistrate court for sexually abusing a seven-year-old on multiple occasions.
An alarming number of child abuse cases have been reported in the past few years, supporting suggestions of widespread child prostitution across the country.
Stating that a special focus needs to be given to the issue, the HRCM’s Tholal said it is important to take a holistic approach in prevention of child abuse.
“Definitely more work needs to be done in many areas including awareness, research and legal protection. One very important thing is for parents to be more responsible in taking care of children,” he said.
“We need to address it legally as well by holding parents accountable for their neglect.”