The magistrate court on the Ungoofaaru island of Raa atoll has sentenced a man to 15 years imprisonment for sexually abusing his step daughter.
He was also found guilty of possession of pornographic images and sentenced to additional four months in jail.
The man was arrested from Maduvaree island and charged under the Use of Special Procedures in Dealing with Child Abusers Act which stipulates strict punishments for persons found guilty of sexually abusing children.
Ungoofaru magistrate court has a notable record in convicting child sex offenders from Raa Atoll, which has a population of nearly 20,000 on 16 different inhabited islands.
In a press statement released Monday, the Maldives Police Service noted that last year Ugoofaaru court had convicted eight people in relation to 10 different child abuse cases.
In February 2011, the court sentenced a man from the island of Kinolhas to 10 years in prison for abusing a 12 year-old disabled girl, and another man from Ugoofaaru was sentenced in April to 10 years imprisonment for sexually abusing a 17 year old girl.
A man from Rasmaadhoo was found guilty of sexually abusing his step daughters aged 12 and 14 for several years. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail while in a similar case a man from Alifushi was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sexually abusing his 17 year old daughter on multiple occasions.
Ungoofaaru court had also sentenced a man from capital Male’ to 20 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of threatening his 15 year old daughter with a knife and sexually abusing her. His wife from Maakurathu was meanwhile sentenced to six months in jail for hiding her husband’s crime, while another man who had given strong medicine to the 15 year old girl was fined up Rf 200 (US$13).
In October, the court sentenced a man from Kandolhudhoo island for sexually abusing a 13 year old boy and later had that month also sentenced a man from Inamaadhoo island for sexually abuing an 11 year old girl.
The police observed that all cases were investigated by the Ungoofaaru police station in partnership with the Family and Children Centre on the island.
According to the Gender Department, a total of between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported to from atoll family and children service centres. A total of 1,005 cases involved minors while 133 cases involved victims aged 18 and above.
Approximately a 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.