Afiya Mohamed – the woman suspected of killing her three-year-old son Ibthihaal on Vaavu Rakeedhoo – has been remanded for 15 days.
The 26-year-old was arrested yesterday afternoon after having spent the previous 48 hours under police watch. Meanwhile, a protest march circled the capital Malé to raise awareness of child abuse.
A warrant was issued for Afiya’s arrest soon after the discovery of her son’s body, with signs of severe abuse, in their home on Wednesday (January 28).
After local authorities revealed that both the police and the gender ministry had been aware of the abuse prior to the incident, Attorney General Mohamed Anil has said the child was living in a safe environment when officials last visited.
“He was not living with the mother when our team visited the island. He was in a safe environment. But we acknowledge that the situation was not properly monitored afterwards, which resulted in the child being returned to the mother,” Sun Online reported Anil as saying.
Ibthihaal’s two siblings are currently in the care of family members, local authorities have said.
Suspicions of state negligence in the case have prompted investigations from Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Prosecutor General’s Office, and a Majlis special committee.
The gender ministry has now formed its own inquiry team, though not before angry protesters entered the ministry’s offices on Thursday morning after it had failed to make an official statement on the case.
NGO Advocating for the Rights of Children has pointed to deficiencies in the legal, judicial, and social sectors tasked with the protection of the rights of children, while the HRCM has condemned the state’s failure to protect him.
“The importance of preventing child abuse is a topic which is spoken of a lot, but it has not received adequate action. Every time such an incident occurs everyone talks of strengthening government institutions,” read an HRCM statement.
Protesters in Malé yesterday echoed the calls of civil society groups to immediately enhance child protection measures.
Speaking at a party rally on Thursday evening, Progressive Party of Maldives Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan promised to prioritise social protection measures.
During the same rally, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said everyone should take some measure of responsibility for the boy’s death, calling the incident a national tragedy.
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