Education Minister cuts short Raa Atoll trip amid protests

Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham cut short a trip to Raa Atoll amid opposition protests over terrorism charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

When Dr Shiham arrived in Raa Atoll Ungoofaaru Island on March 13, Nasheed’s supporters staged a protest at the jetty calling for the opposition leader’s release.

According to Haveeru, a clash occurred between ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) supporters and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters. Police dispersed the protesters.

The former president was sentenced to 13 years in jail at 23:15 pm that night over the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Dr Shiham spent the night in Ungoofaaru, but left to Malé the next day without visiting Hulhudhuffaru. Dhuvaafaru, Maakurathu and Rasmadhoo Islands.

The minister had visited ten islands to examine the education systems before her visit to Ungoofaaru.

The President of Hulhudhuffaru Island Council Aahir Hussain told Haveeru students and faculty were disappointed by Dr Shiham’s decision to cancel the trip.

“Students and parents stayed up late for weeks to prepare for the minister’s visit. So everyone is quite upset when she cancelled,” he said.


Court sentences 16 year old girl to 100 lashes for having sex with 29 year-old

A 16 year-old girl has been sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months house arrest by Hulhudhufaaru Magistrate Court in Raa Atoll, for fornication.

The court also sentenced a 29 year-old man to 10 years imprisonment, after the court found him guilty of having sex with the girl.

As she is a legally a minor, the court stated that the girl’s sentence would be implemented when she turned 18.

An official from the told the local media that the man travelled to the island after the girl invited him. The the girl’s family noticed that she was not at home and went looking for her, the official said.

The pair were found that night in some bushes behind the island’s power house, he added.

The court official said the the girl’s family pressed charges, which were denied by the man. However the girl confessed, local press reported.

The Hulhudhufaaru Court identified the 29 year-old as Ahmed Rasheed of Angolhitheemu Island in Raa Atoll.

The man was sentenced under article 3[a][c] of the Child Sex Abuse [Special Provisions] Act which states that if a person touches a minor with the intention of having sex, then it is a punishable crime. A person found guilty of such a crime can be sentenced to a term of 10-14 years in prison.

According to statistics revealed by the Gender Department in April this year, between December 2010 and October 2011, 1,138 cases of child abuse were reported from atoll family and children service centres. 1,005 of these cases involved minors while 133 of these cases involved victims aged older than 18.

Approximately one third of the 81 cases involving children less than one year 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 10.