Mother charged with murder over death of toddler

A mother has been charged with killing her three-year-old son on the island of Rakeedhoo in Vaavu atoll in January.

The prosecutor general’s office told local media that the case against Fathmath Afiya was filed at the criminal court today.

The body of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal was found with signs of severe abuse on January 28 in the worst case of child abuse in recent years. The murder shocked the nation while reports that officials had been aware of Ibthihaal’s abuse sparked public outrage.

Afiya was arrested two days later and has since been held in pre-trial detention. Her stepfather, Ismail Raoof, was arrested on April 1 on suspicion of physically and sexually abusing Ibthihaal.

The PG office also pressed disobedience to order charges against Afiya over child neglect.


Inter-generational violence and state negligence led to Ibthihaal murder, says police

Inter-generational violence and state negligence led to the abuse and death of three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal in January, police have said.

Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh said negligence by government authorities and the island community on Vaavu Rakeedhoo was partly responsible for the toddler’s murder.

“Investigating the death is not enough, wide investigation into circumstances surrounding his death is also important,” Satheeh told the press on Thursday.

Ibthihaal’s body was found with signs of severe abuse on January 28 in the worst case of child abuse in recent years. The murder shocked the nation while reports that officials had been aware of Ibthihaal’s abuse sparked public outrage.

The boy’s mother, Fathmath Afiya, was arrested for murder two days later and has since been held in remand detention.

Afiya’s stepfather, Ismail Raoof, was arrested on April 1 on suspicion of physically and sexually abusing Ibthihaal.

Satheeh said marks on the child’s neck indicated that he had been strangled.

Police also found swelling on the right side of his forehead, scrapes on his face, wounds on his right ear and scars all over his body. Some of his ribs were broken as well.

Satheeh said Ibthihaal’s death was caused by “major injuries” while some older scars remained unhealed.

“Mohamed Ibthihal had received physical and psychological harm from different individuals on different occasions, for a long period of time,” he said.

Police explained that Ibthihaal had been under the care of his maternal grandmother from the age of one and lived with her in Vaavu Keyodhoo and Meemu Madduvari.

Afiya’s stepfather is suspected of having abused Ibthihaal at the time.

Seven months before his death, Ibthihaal was brought back to Rakeedhoo to live with his mother, where his psychological and physical abuse continued.

Afiya had two other children at the time and is accused of mistreating Ibthihaal, neglecting to feed or wash the boy.

Satheeh said Afiya’s husband, Ibthihaal’s step father, took care of the boy.

On the day before his death, Afiya had not fed Ibthihaal after giving the boy a glass of juice. His stepfather fed him after coming home that night, Satheeh said.

Police suggested that Afiya’s anger towards her son stemmed from rumours surrounding his birth. Ibthihaal was reportedly born out of wedlock.

During her interrogation, Afiya confessed to severely beating Ibthihaal after waking up in the morning “because of the anger she had towards him”.

Afiya said she called for help when she saw no movement from the child.

Local media has reported that Afiya was also a victim of sexual abuse.

Afiya’s stepfather, Raoof, had previously been banished by the Vaavu Keyodhoo court after being found guilty of abusing a step-child. Afiya was reportedly the victim of the abuse.


In its submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, the human rights watchdog said children born out of wedlock face discrimination in the Maldives.

Illegitimate children were denied their father’s name, inheritance and child maintenance, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives said.

The commission noted that the absence of requisite procedures, inconsistencies in institutional applications and lack of sensitivity among law enforcement and judiciary towards domestic violence are fundamental issues faced in implementation of Domestic Violence Act.

Limited capacity of investigators and their belief that such cases are family matters inhibit victims from getting redress.

“Reporting of domestic violence cases remain low as a result of lack of confidence in the system, fear of intimidation by perpetrators, stigmatisation and inadequate information on protection measures,” the commission stated.

“Violence against children takes place in all settings. Only a small proportion of reported child abuse victims gets justice and remains re‐victimised due to systemic failures.”


Majlis’ Ibthihaal investigation postponed until end of recess

The Majlis committee investigating the death of 3-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal will wait until the house reconvenes in March before holding further meetings.

Chair of the Majlis government oversight committee Riyaz Rasheed told Haveeru that there was “no point” and that “nothing further that can be achieved”, accusing fellow committee member Rozaina Adam of releasing confidential documents.

“I specifically asked the members of the committee at its last meeting to not make any of these documents public,” said the Progressive Party of Maldives MP.

Since the committee’s first meeting was held on February 5 was adjourned to give members more time to study the case’s documents, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Rozaina has accused Rasheed of slowing the committee’s work.

She has also told the media that the documents received from the police contained no details of the toddler’s case prior to his death, despite authorities acknowledging that they were previously aware of his abuse.

Last Thursday, she went on to say that the gender ministry’s report contained  questionable statements, alleging that both the ministry and police had acted in breach of the law.

Ibthihaal was found dead in his home with numerous wounds and bruises on the island of Vaavu Atoll Rakeedhoo on January 28. His mother is mother is charged with murder and is in police custody awaiting further investigation.

Riyaz reiterated that. while parliament’s involvement has been temporarily brought to a halt, the government is looking into the matter and taking necessary action to prevent further incidents of the kind.

Source: Haveeru


Rise in child abuse reports “tip of the iceberg”, says ARC

Local child protection NGO Advocating the rights of Children (ARC) says that the recent increase in reports of child abuse cases following the death of Rakeedhoo toddler Mohamed Ibthihaal is only the “tip of the iceberg”.

ARC’s advocacy manager Muruthala Moosa explained that existing societal and cultural norms are contributing to an environment that put children at risk of abuse.

The high profile case of Ibthihaal has resulted in a spike in reports of child abuse as the public and media campaign to raise awareness of the issue. Authorities are meanwhile conducting a series of parallel investigations after it was revealed that abuse within the troubled family was known to officials.

“In the absence of such a high profile case, child abuse continues unabated and unreported,” said Muruthala.

Numerous cases of child abuse have been reported to police following the death of the three-year-old last week. Police have since revealed that his mother confessed to the crime while under police custody after the Criminal Court issued a warrant against her.

Haveeru reported that she has been transported to Malé today (February 3) for further investigation.

Muruthala said that ARC had consistently stated that the existing Child Protection Act (Act no. 9/91) was “inadequate and does not contain major provisions and principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which the Maldives acceded to in 1991.”

Additionally, he noted that despite a new act being drafted, “not enough political capital or priority is being afforded to fast track this legislation”.

The implementation of laws and regulation is also a major problem, said Muruthala: “Even if the new and improved Act is to take effect, it needs to be enforced thoroughly.”

“The tragic [Ibthihaal] case has highlighted the need to address serious deficiencies in the child protection system in the Maldives,” he said.

Meanwhile, a police media official told Minivan News today that there has been a marked increase in the number of child abuse cases being reported in the past week.

Police confirmed reports that a 42-year-old man from Lhaviyani Hinnavaru was arrested today for sexually abusing a 14-year-old, while her mother has also been arrested for giving the man consent to carry out the abuse.

Hinnavaru police have also started an investigation into another case in which a man branded a six-year-old on the hand with a red hot screwdriver, confirmed the media official.

Police have also started an investigation into a case where an 11-year-old boy was allegedly held in chains at Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhuhffushi, the official continued.

Sun reported sources as saying that the child is mischievous and often misbehaved, and that the family was keeping him chains for his own safety. The Human Rights Commission of Maldives is investigating reports that authorities were aware of the abuse.

Elsewhere, a court warrant has been issued for the arrest of a divorced couple from Laamu Gan for threatening their four children, while a 23-year-old in Hulhumalé has been arrested for neglecting her six-month-old baby on January 31.

Police media said that the Family and Child Protection Department will be assisting and providing guidance to the island police stations on how proceed with such cases.

Related to this story

ARC condemns “systematic laws” after death of Rakeedhoo toddler

Body of abused child found in Vaavu Rakeedhoo

State negligence investigated in death of Rakeedhoo child