Parliament passes amendments to increase child support payments

Parliament has passed amendments to increase the amount of money for child support to MVR 2,000 (US$130) as part of the Family Regulation.

Amendments proposed to article 65 state that that a father who has more than one child must pay MVR 1,000 (US$65) per child per month as child support until the children reaches the age of 18.

According to the amendments, a father who has one child is required to pay MVR 2,000 per month until the child turns 18.

Amendments proposed to article 63 (a) also state that MVR 2,000 per month must be provided during iddah – a period of waiting undertaken by a woman after a divorce.

Previously, the Family Regulation stated that MVR 500 (US$32) should be provided to women during iddah, and MVR 250 (US$16) should be provided as child support, local media reported.

In accordance to article 55 of the Family Act, if a father does not have the financial means to support his children, the court will discuss the issue with the relatives of children in order to make them responsible for the child’s upbringing should they agree.


DRP proposing to increase child support, increase age to 18

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayythithunge Party (DRP) has said the party will submit amendments to increase the monthly child support up to Rf1000 (US$65), a 122 percent increase compared to the existing amount.

Under the regulation drafted under the 2001 Family Law, fathers are currently mandated to pay Rf450 (US$29) per child to the former spouse following the breakdown of a marriage.

Similarly, Rf500 (US$32) must be paid to the woman until the period of Idha expires. Idha is period of time a divorced woman is required to wait before re-marrying . DRP is also proposing to increase Idda payment to be increased up to Rf2000 (US$129) – 300 percent increase.

DRP’s parliamentary group member Rozaina Adam told reporters that several single-mothers are today financial burdened and struggling to raise children.

She stressed that, “existing child support amounts are inadequate and outdated compared to the current cost of living.”

“Inflation has gone up. The cost of living has increased. Therefore, Rf450 is not enough to cover childcare costs now,” the MP for Thulusdhoo constituency noted.

Under the amendments that will be submitted next week passes, Rozaina says, fathers will have to pay child support till the child reach 18 years, instead of 16.

Meanwhile, she also emphasised on the legal challenges faced by the mothers in obtaining child support.

She noted several cases are delayed in courts across the islands due to absence of judges and other various reasons, while in other cases, the child support money collected by the court are not distributed to its recipient’s for months- an issue highlighted by the Auditor General following the audit of the courts.

The audit found that Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) made no effort to distribute child support money worth over Rf1.3 million (US$85,000) while some remains uncollected – indicating that single-mothers are bearing the financial burden of raising children.

The Maldives has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, with almost 47 percent households headed by females and single mothers.

A monthly allowance of Rf2000 (US$130) is distributed by state to single-mothers; however, flaws in the system and miscommunications leave many mothers empty-handed, especially in the atolls.

“I have a five year old son. His father has not provided child support since we got divorced. But I do not get child support because I am a civil servant. That is very upsetting because I can barely cover our costs from my salary,” a school supervisor working on Hithadhoo island previously told Minivan News.

A local gender affairs expert told Minivan News the Maldives needed urgent legal reforms to ensure a better social care system for single parents and children under their custody. However, she argued, “dependent systems must not be created without  empowerment programs to encourage women to break out of it.”


High Court upholds sentencing of woman for being accomplice to son’s drugs business

The High Court of the Maldives has upheld a Criminal Court verdict to sentence Majidha Adam to 25 years imprisonment, after she was found guilty of being an accomplice to her son’s trade of illegal drugs.

The High Court ruling stated that she had given Rf 5000 (US$342) to her son to run his drug trade.

Majidha claimed in court that she had a mental illness, but the Criminal Court had not considered it in concluding the case, the High Court said.

According to the High Court the case was first lodged in the Criminal Court on 25 June 2007 and was concluded in November 2007.

On April 26, 2007, Majidha gave a statement to police stating that her son Ahmed Ihusan, studying at grade nine at the time, that she was aware that he was trading illegal drugs and that she provided funds for him to run the business on several occasions, the High Court’s ruling said.

The statement was however not signed by Majidha. Four senior police officers who investigated the case told the Criminal Court that the statement was as she gave it and no changes were brought to it, although she has declined that it was the same as the statement she wrote.

The High Court said Majidha has produced to the High Court a doctor’s statement that she had a mental illness, but that this was after the date the Criminal Court concluded the case. It dismissed the statement as the document was not produced to the Criminal Court at the time.

Majidha reportedly told the police that she was aware that Ihusan sold illegal drugs and that he kept it running by reinvesting the profits.

The High Court also ruled that the case was filed before the new constitution was ratified and so the courts had to follow the laws followed at the time.


Maldives ranks 45th best place to be a mother among developing nations

Maldives has been ranked as the 45th best place to be a  mother among 80 developing nations compared in international NGO Save the Children’s 13th State of the World’s Mothers report.

The ranking includes 165 countries split into three categories – 43 more developed  countries , 80 less developed countries and 42 least developed countries.

Norway is ranked first, ahead of Iceland and Sweden, while Niger is the worst place to be a mother in the world – replacing Afghanistan for the first time in two years.

The Maldives landed first out of  42 countries listed in the ‘least developed’ tier of the 2011 mother’s index rankings.

However, with the transition to a less developed country status from January 2011, the Maldives was placed in the second tier in 2012, which looked at 80 developing countries across the globe, out of which the island nation ranked 45th.

That puts Maldives three points below the neighboring Sri Lanka but far ahead of India, Pakistan and several other Islamic nations in the Middle East.

“More than 90 years of experience on the ground has shown us that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive,” said President and CEO of Save the Children USA, Carolyn Miles, in the report.”But many are not so fortunate.”

“Alarming numbers of mothers and children in developing countries are not getting the nutrition they need. For mothers, this means less strength and energy for the vitally important activities of daily life. It also means increased risk of death or giving birth to a pre-term, underweight or malnourished infant,” Miles observed.

She added: “For young children, poor nutrition in the early years often means irreversible damage to bodies and minds during the time when both are developing rapidly. And for 2.6 million children each year, hunger kills, with malnutrition leading to death.”

Maldives achievements

The 45th ranking was derived from the Maldives’ performance in the factors or areas measured for the State of the World’s Mothers report, including the mother’s health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health, mortality rate and nutrition.

The statistics included in the report shows that in the past six years the Maldives with a population of approximately 350,000 has achieved notable success in improving the maternal health, thus achieving the goal 5 of Millennium Development Goals.

According the report, lifetime risk of maternal deaths in Maldives has been significantly reduced to 1 per 1200 and females have a life expectancy of 77 years while under-five mortality rate dramatically declined to 15 per 1000, compared to 41 per 1000 in 1990, as the country’s 95 percent of births are attended  by a skilled health worker.

Almost 95 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water and the school enrollment ratio remains significantly high, the report adds.

Maldives Health Statistics Report 2011 concluded: “Overall it can be said that the trends show improvement in the health and wellbeing of people in the Maldives”.

These successes were attributed to the effective immunisation programs, and improved accessibility of health services across the islands.

“Consistent improvements in quality of services are crucial to sustain these developments and further the achievement” the report read.


Predictably, the statistics revealed that the Maldives needs to improve on areas of reproductive health with increasedaccess to contraceptives, economic and political participation of women and dietary needs of children –  issues highlighted by the stake holders in various platforms.

  • Malnutritution: Minivan News reported in April about the increasing concern among the health experts as malnutrition in the country remains “quite alarming” considering the number of medical advances made in the country over the last few years. According to figures published in 2009 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 17.8 percent of children under five years of age were found to be underweight in the Maldives according to international standards for ascertaining health in young people. The same figures found that 6.5 percent of children were classed as overweight in the country. 20.3 percent of children in the same age group were found to be suffering from ’stunting’, a term describing children suffering growth retardation as a result of poor diet and infection
  • Economic and Political Participation: Gender inequality is one of the social determinants at the heart of inequity in health, so progress in  equal participation of women is crucial. However, with the Maldives’ Islamic background, the society prescribes predominantly domestic and traditional roles for women, while men take the role of breadwinner.According to the ‘Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009-2010′, out of the 38,493 people unemployed in 2010, 63 percent were women, almost double the male rate of unemployment. Meanwhile in the political sphere, women’s representation is significantly low with only 57 out of 1091 are island level councilor seats filled by women and 5 out of 77 Parliament members as women.

    “The absence of childcare facilities make it difficult for women to remain employed after they have children. HRCM also received reports that some employers discouraging women from marriage or pregnancy, as it could result in employment termination or demotion,” the UNDP ‘s “Women in Public Life in the Maldives”report said.

    Restrictions on women’s mobility and reluctance from family members to allow women to travel alone to other islands for work were also identified as key obstacles to employment.

  • Reproductive Health and Access to Contraception: Greater attention to improving sexual and reproductive health care and universal access to all its aspects are required to prevent unintended pregnancies and provide high- quality pregnancy and delivery care, according according to the UNFPA in the Maldives.However, there is social stigma surrounding the purchase of contraceptives and “talks” of sex several reproductive illnesses.

    Data suggests that contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods declined from 34 per cent  in 2004 to 27 per cent in 2009, and the number of adolescent pregnancies has increased. Abortion is illegal, yet the number of women experiencing complications from unsafe abortions is reported to be increasing.

    “These complications, along with the high contraceptive discontinuation rate and the high unmet need for family planning, are jeopardising previous gains in maternal health. Policies and services do not adequately address the reproductive health needs,” UNFPA said in the country programme document (2011-2015) for Maldives.

    While Maldivian women aged 15-49 is expected to grow for the next 30 years, the Maldives needs a comprehensive program to create awareness and set up wider adequate reproductive and maternal health facilities and services.


Man who raped mother receives 16 years’ prison, 39 lashes

Kolamaafushi Court in Gaafu Alifu Atoll has sentenced a man to  39 lashes and 16 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping his mother, in the presence of a minor.

According to police, 31 year-old Abdulla Nizam was sentenced to six years imprisonment and 39 lashes for the rape of an “unmarriageable” person, and a further 10 years imprisonment for having sex in the presence of a minor.

The latter charge is a criminal offence under the Child Sex Abuse Special Provisions Act.

The investigation of the rape was concluded and sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office in April 2010, while the  investigation into the presence of the minor was was concluded in September the same year.

The case was investigated by the Villingili Police Station based on the island of Villingili in Gaa Alifu Atoll.

In October last year, police arrested a 26 year-old man for allegedly sexually assaulting his 62 year-old grandmother on the island of Hithadhoo of Addu City.

Local media Haveeru reported that time that the 26 year-old man was a grandson of the woman, who was half-paralysed.

In April 2011, a 19 year-old man was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 74 year-old elderly woman on the same island.


Criminal Court imprisons murdered child’s mother for six months over negligence

A woman arrested in connection with the alleged sexual abuse and murder of her eight-month old child has been sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Criminal Court after being found guilty of  negligence.

The woman, who was identified as Noorzaadha Ali, of Addu Atoll Hithadhoo, was not herself charged with murdering or sexually abusing the child, although the court ruled that she was in violation of elements of the Penal Code.

According to local media, the presiding judge said that the suspect had not vaccinated the baby or taken proper care to clean the child and failed to explain internal and external injuries to the victim.

On the basis of these findings, the judge declared that Nooruzaadha had neglected her duties as a mother.

Her boyfriend, Mohamed Waheed, stands accused of murdering the child, though the outcome of that trial has not yet been concluded.

The eight-month-old baby boy died in the intensive care unit of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) back in June 2009.

Three suspects were arrested in connection with allegations that he had been physically and sexuallly abused.  These suspects included the victim’s mother, Nooruzaadha, 28[then], from Addu atoll Hithadhoo, her boyfriend Mohamed Waheed, 46[then], from Male’, and a third man whose identity has not yet been revealed.

Addressing media at the time, Inspector Hamdhoon Rasheed, head of the police investigation unit, said initial test results revealed the baby had extensive injuries, as well as showing signs of having been sexually abused.

Rasheed said that the boy had suffered head and neck injuries, and was covered in scratches. The hospital reported the case to police after Waheed took the baby in for medical care.

Nooruzaadha had a long history of criminal activity, according to both police and the prosecutor general’s office.

She was arrested twice in 2002, once for sexual misconduct and the second time for prostitution, said Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem.

She was sentenced to eight months house arrest for the first offence, which she breached, and six months imprisonment for the second.

The same year, she was put under house arrest for disobedience of order, which she violated and was fined Rf150 (US$12). In 2006, she was arrested on the same charge and was ordered to spend two months in jail.

In 2004, Nooruzaadha was handed a six-year sentence for possession of drugs and in 2005 and 2007, she was given two 12-year sentences on each occasion for drug possession.