President abolishes gender department

The Department of Gender and Family Protection Services has been abolished by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

The department, formerly administered under the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights asits activities related to children, women, people with special needs, and families, are now conducted by the Gender Ministry, according to the President’s Office.

The announcement of the department’s elimination (May 6) comes a day after Waheed met with the United Nation’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais.

During the meeting Waheed emphasised his commitment to promoting and protecting children’s rights as well as ending all forms of violence against children.

He said a special committee has been established to “reform and strengthen” the government’s framework for protecting and advancing the rights of women, children, special needs individuals, and senior citizens, as well as promoting gender equality.


HRCM, Gender Department condemn sexual violence “atrocities”

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and the Department of Gender and Family Protection Services have strongly condemned the recent “atrocities” of sexual violence against minors, women and persons with special needs.

In a press release today, HRCM notes that the prevalence of sexual violence against the most vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly, under-age children and the disabled has “reached worrying levels.”

“We call on the government, state institutions, political parties, civil society organisations and all citizens to work together with renewed courage to stop such inhumane actions, save the community and establish a secure environment,” reads the HRCM statement.

Calling on the authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice in its press statement yesterday, the Gender Department warned that the surge in sexual violence cases has created an atmosphere of fear and caused psychological distress to a number of families.

Some 14 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported to the department so far this year, including the case of a Jamaaludheen School teacher arrested for allegedly molesting deaf children under his care.

Eight men were arrested last week in Haa Dhaal Dhidhoo for alleged abuse of a 13-year-old girl while among those arrested in other cases include fathers, grandfathers and relatives of the under-age victims.

Chief Inspector Ali Shujau, head of the family and child protection unit, told press today that police investigations have revealed that school children aged 14 to 18 were being lured to guest houses by adults.

Police found that minors were sexually abused at guest houses after being lured through the internet, he said.

In the first three weeks of April, said Shujau, 27 sexual violence cases were reported to police, including 16 child sexual abuse cases and 11 sexual assault cases.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry in collaboration with local NGOs ‘Hope for Women’ and the ‘Manfaa’ centre has announced a protest march in Male’ tomorrow to urge the authorities to take action, reports Sun Online.

The march is to begin at 4pm near the Social Centre and wind down at the artificial beach.

In Addu City, the Family and Child Service Centre in Seenu Hithadhoo together with local NGOs has planned a vehicle round from 4.30pm to 6pm Friday after a 74-year-old woman was brutally raped on Sunday.

According to Haveeru, the victim’s injuries were serious enough that she had to undergo surgery at the Hithadhoo Regional Hospital. A 19-year-old suspect has since been taken into police custody.