Rape suspect arrested in Vili-Male’

Police have arrested a 33 year-old male in connection with the rape of a girl below 16 years of age in Vili-Male’ on Saturday (December 29).

Mohamed Abdushukoor, 33, of Galolhu Red Coral, was taken into custody last night with assistance from the public, the police said.

Abdushukoor reportedly forced the under-aged victim into a house in Vili-Male’ at about 1:00pm yesterday while she was out walking with her 14 year-old brother.

Police accused the suspect of keeping the pair in separate rooms as he sexually abused the girl. The incident was reported to the Police Family and Child Protection Unit late yesterday afternoon.

Police then made a public announcement publishing a photo of Abdushukoor, who it said has a criminal record, appealing for assistance in searching for the suspect.

He was arrested in Vili-Male’ shortly before midnight on Saturday, police said, and expressed gratitude to the public for their help in locating the suspect.

According to an unpublished 2009 study on violence against minors, almost one in seven children of secondary school age in the Maldives have been sexually abused at some time in their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

The sexual abuse rate of girls in the country was found to be almost twice as high than for boys at 20 percent, according to the study.

One in five Maldivian girls has been sexually abused – while the figure for boys was 11 percent.  Female minors were particularly at risk in the capital Male’, the report found.

2007 study on Women’s Health and Life Experiences meanwhile found that one in three Maldivian women aged 15 to 49 experience either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives, including childhood sexual abuse.

In recent years, local authorities and NGOs have released a number of findings highlighting the extent of child abuse and wider sexual assaults within society.

The state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s (IGMH’s) Family Protection Unit reported in 2010 that the centre was notified of 42 cases of rape between 2005-2010. Most of these cases were found to involve minors.

According to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, 13 rape cases were reported last year alone, the majority of which most were gang rapes or assaults involving minors.