Maldivian man arrested for rape of 13-year-old girl

A 53-year-old man suspected of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in Addu Atoll Hithadhoo was arrested today.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that the suspect was taken into custody after the case was reported to the police.

Shiyam declined to divulge further information regarding the case.

Local daily Haveeru reported today that the girl had a mental disorder.

Ahmed Mohamed, head of Hithadhoo Regional Hospital, also confirmed the incident occurred, ”but we do not have further information on the case,” he said.

Both the health ministry’s child and family protection unit and the Hithadhoo councillor also declined to provide any information.

Meanwhile, an employee at the hospital confirmed that the girl was brought to the hospital to get a medical report.

The hospital staff member claimed the suspect was an employee at the hospital.

”He is a man from Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll,” he said. ”It happened in another district so we also do not know much about the case.”


Hithaadhoo now out of water

Hithaadhoo in Baa Atoll has completely run out of water, claims Island councilor Amir Abdul Latheef.

He said he has been getting complaints since yesterday morning that all houses on the island had no water.

”We informed the utilities company that we have no water on the island,” Amir said, ”they told us that they would send water as soon as possible.”

Amir said the islanders were using ground water from the island, a practice banned by the Health Ministry twelve years ago because of the toxicity.

”Only a few wealthy men use mineral water but the majority of people cannot afford to buy water everyday,” he said. ”There are 1227 people on the island,” Amir noted.

He said he had never witnessed a situation similar to this in his whole life. ”[The last time] it rained was eight months ago,” he said,”the situation on the island is now much worse.”

He said the island office was trying to prevent infants from having to use the impure ground water.

”It rains occasionally but that much is not usable as the roofs are dusty and such small amount of rain does not even clean the roofs,” he said.

Amir said people of the island were now in danger of becoming sick with fevers and diseases due to drinking impure water.

State Minister for Health Abdul Baary Abdulla said there were many diseases that could potentially result from the use of contaminated water, including diarrhoea, stomach ailments and skin diseases.

Amir had recently complained several times that the island would completely run out of water during the weekend if the government does not provide it for them urgently.


”Hithaadhu will run out of water in a day,” warns island councilor

Councilor of Hithaadhoo in Baa Atoll Amir Abdul Latheef has claimed the island will run out of water over the weekend if the government does not provide it for them urgently.

Amir said the island office had reports that some people on the island had begun using well water for drinking and cooking, a practice banned by the Health Ministry twelve years ago due to the impurity of the ground water in the island.

”All the water tanks are now almost empty,” Amir said. ”We informed [the government] office one week ago. They said they would deliver water to us, but there has been no response after that.”

He said the islanders were worried over the issue and wondering what to do if the government did not provide aid for them.

He said there was a total population of 1222 people on the island of Hithaadhoo.

Councilor of Kihaadhoo in Baa Atoll Abdulla Naseem said some people on the island had also started using well water for cooking as there was not enough water on the island.

Naseem said the ground water of the island was impure due to sewerage.

”Fifty per-cent of the ground water is polluted while water from some areas is totally impure,” he said.

He said the island would run out of water in two to three months.

”We have already informed [the government] that we might run out of water,” he said. ”Last time the government provided 30,000 litres of water.”

He said 425 people lived on the Island of Kihaadhoo.

State minister for health Abdul Baary Abdulla said there was a long list of islands where the ministry had banned the use of water to drink and cook.

Baary said there were many diseases that could potentially result from the use of contaminated water, including diarrhoea, stomach ailments and skin diseases.


Thirteen year old abused by father in Shaviyani Atoll

Police and the Ministry of Health and Family are investigating a man who allegedly sexually abused his 13 year old daughter on the island of Fokaidhu in Shaviyani Atoll, after luring her to a room with Milo packets.

An official from the island office said the case was reported to the island office on Thursday morning at 11:00pm. He said the man was summoned to the island office by police but was released after questioning.

The official claimed that the case came to the attention of authorities after she confided in someone she knew about the abuse, which was then passed to the island offices by two other youths.

The Family and Children Service took the girl into state protection the same day the case was reported, the official said.

Head of the Family and Children Service Centre Abdul Zaeem refused to comment on the case. Senior Social Service Officer from the Ministry of Health and Family Fathimath Runa said ”if a case like this was reported to us, we would investigate it with the police.”

Police Sergeant Abdul Muhsin confirmed the case was reported to police but ”could not give any details.”

Head of Shaviyani Atoll Police Station Ijlal also refused to provide information ”as the investigation is ongoing,” but noted it was the fourth child-related case reported to the station this year.


Don’t let your guard down against the flu

The health ministry has called on people to be vigilant about swine flu.

Since July, 32 cases have been reported in the Maldives and one death. According to Miadhu, the ministry has said that even though the spread of the disease has slowed, people should still be cautious.

The ministry again emphasised the importance of controlling the spread once schools had opened, urging parents to keep children at home until fully recovered.


Prostitution on the rise in the Maldives

Prostitution is on the rise in the Maldives, reports Miadhu.

Locals as well as foreigners are becoming involved in prostitution, while many people from Russia and East Asia are being brought into the country for this purpose, the newspaper claimed.

Police have recently busted many guest houses and massage parlours that were involved in prostitution, Miadhu said.

The Health Ministry has also expressed concern about the threat of AIDS spreading through prostitution. The ministry also claimed that 200 labourers had tested positive for AIDS, Miadhu said.


Swine flu to spread in coming months

Health Ministry officials have warned of an increase in the spread of swine flu in the coming months.

Director General of Health Services Dr Ibrahim Yasir said there would be more opportunities for the spread of the disease with many people returning to the Maldives after the school holidays.

Dr Ahmed Jamsheed from the Centre of Community Health and Disease Control said it was important to keep children away from school if they had flu symptoms.

The Health Ministry also said plans were being made to further increase awareness about the disease.


Swine flu reaches over 30 confirmed cases

The number of swine flu cases in the Maldives has climbed to 32 after seven more people, including a pilgrim returning from Hajj, tested positive yesterday.

The 27-year-old man was the first Hajj pilgrim to test positive for swine flu.

This establishes infection in Haa Alif Baarah, Hoarafushi, Thuraakunu, Dhaal Rinbidhoo, Faaf Nilandhoo and a resort island being developed in Thaa atoll, according to the health ministry.

The virus has now been detected in all regions of the country apart from seven atolls. With nine cases reported, the Male’ region has the highest incidence of swine flu, followed by five in Raa atoll, and two each from Shaviyani, Noonu, Meemu and Dhaal atolls.

Baa, Lhaviyani, Alif Alif, Vaavu, Faafu, Thaa and Gnaviyani atolls have one confirmed case each.

The number of Influenza A cases in the country currently stands at 65.

The swine flu alert is currently at level four with infection being transmitted within the general community but limited to some islands, atoll or province, the health ministry said.

Under level four, the ministry advises travelers to take precautionary measures and defer “non-essential travel, especially for those who are at higher risk of severe illness and when onward travel may result in quarantine”.

A 65-year-old man from Raa atoll Inguraidhoo who died on 18 November became the first casualty of swine flu in the Maldives.

He was the first victim not to have traveled abroad. In a statement to parliament, Health Minister Dr Aiminath Jameel said the victim was believed to have contracted the virus on a visit to Male’ to see off pilgrims to Mecca.

Prior to his death, the six people infected with the virus had traveled abroad and were released after treatment.

The number of deaths from swine flu worldwide has risen to 9,596 deaths in over 200 countries.


Authorities warn of looming AIDS pandemic

The Health Ministry has warned of the spread of AIDS in the Maldives after an expatriate prostitute tested positive for HIV.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed, senior medical officer at the centre for community health and disease control, said prostitutes from neighbouring countries were working in the Maldives on tourist visas.

“We have some evidence now that expatriate women who came to the Maldives without a work permit on a tourist visa are involved in prostitution,” he said. “We learned that one of them was HIV positive.”

While the authorities required  medical checkups for expatriates who apply for work permits, he said, foreigners on tourist visas were not tested.

246 foreigners on work permits have been sent out of the country after testing positive since 1995, an average of 15 a day.

He added the authorities discovered the expatriate prostitute was HIV positive when she applied for a work permit.

Jamsheed said it was likely that there were more prostitutes with HIV who work at massage parlours and appealed to the public to be aware of the risks of visiting local brothels.

Prostitutes from China and Russia working in Sri Lanka often come to the Maldives when their tourist visa expires, he continued, while prostitutes in the Maldives visit Sri Lanka to re-enter the country on a new tourist visa.

“There’s a rotating group between Ceylon and Maldives,” he said. “We believe there must be a lot of HIV positive people among them.”

If AIDS begins to spread in the country, he added, there was no reason to believe it could be controlled.

Jamsheed said HIV in the Maldives was like a ticking time bomb: “Everything necessary for the disease to spread exists among us.”

A recent survey on AIDS revealed all the behavioural risks contributing to the spread of HIV, such as promiscuity, prostitution, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and sharing needles, were “widespread” in the country.

Jamsheed said responsibility had to be taken at an individual, societal and government level to avoid the country “reaching that critical stage”.

Although the survey was based on a small sample of the population, since its release one Maldivian had been found HIV positive and it was likely that more would be discovered. There are over 30 Maldivians with HIV, according to estimates said Dr Jamsheed.

Of the 14 people with AIDS known to the authorities ten have passed away, three are undergoing treatment while the others’ condition had not deteriorated to require treatment.

Asked whether recommendations in the study, such promoting the use of condoms and making clean disposal syringes available to drug addicts could be implemented in the Maldives, Jamsheed said both strategies have been successfully deployed overseas.

“The question is whether they can be brought in to our society with our Islamic principles and values,” he said, adding that the National AIDS Council had to discuss the issues.

Dr Ali Nazeem, in charge of treating HIV patients, said more voluntary counselling and testing centres (VTCs) would be established in the near future, while testing was already available in regional hospitals.

Testing is currently available at ADK hospital and the police VTC.

He added the centres will maintain anonymity and the test results would be confidential.

Earlier this week, drugs NGO Journey opened a VTC with more than 20 volunteers to offer counselling.