Bangladeshi woman arrested on prostitution charges

A Bangladeshi woman was arrested from a residence in Malé around 8:00pm last night on charges of prostitution.

Three Bangladeshi men were also arrested after police officers raided Machangoalhi Zeefiyaz based on intelligence information.

The suspects were engaged in prostitution when officers entered the residence, the police said in a statement. Some of the men are suspected of being the woman’s agents.

The police also searched a room in the house and found cash in local and foreign currencies as well as unspecified “items used for sexual activities.”

Last night’s raid follows the arrest of eight suspects, including three foreign women, four foreign men, and one Maldivian man, from a brothel in Malé last week.


Police bust prostitution ring, arrest eight suspects

Three foreign women, four foreign men, and one Maldivian man were arrested last night after the police raided a brothel in Malé.

The police raided the Woodpecker house in the Maafanu ward of the capital around 9:00pm based on intelligence information. The suspects were engaged in prostitution when officers entered the residence, the police said in a statement.

The three foreign women were arrested on charges of prostitution and the two foreign men on suspicion of being their agents.

The two foreign men and the Maldivian man were reportedly customers.

Police officers searched the four rooms of the house and found large amounts of cash in both foreign and local currency as well as pills and other items used for sexual activities.

The police said the serious and organised crime department is investigating the case.

In August 2013, the criminal court sentenced a 64-year-old Maldivian man to four years in prison after finding him guilty of running a brothel and forcing three Thai women into prostitution.

Two Maldivian women and a man were also arrested in April last year on charges of prostitution.

The police said that the two female suspects were aged 29 and 30 and the man was 26-years-old.

The suspects were taken into custody after police raided the Beauty house in Maafannu.

Police officers searched the house and discovered five packets containing illegal narcotics.


CEDAW committee welcomes progress on women’s rights, expresses concern with child marriages, flogging and gender stereotypes

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has welcomed the Maldives’ progress on protecting women’s rights whilst expressing concern with child marriages, flogging and gender stereotypes in society.

In its concluding observations released last Friday (March 6) on the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of the Maldives – reviewed at meetings on February 27 with a high-level delegation led by Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon – the committee welcomed progress achieved since the last review in 2007, including the adoption of a new penal code that includes a definition of rape.

The committee noted other legislative reforms such as the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Act of 2014, the Sexual Offences Act of 2014, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act of 2013, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 2012, the Employment Act of 2008, and the new Constitution in 2008, “which removes provisions barring women from being elected as President and Vice-President.”

The committee also noted the establishment of the Family Protection Authority in 2012 and welcomed “forthcoming amendments to the Family Act to regulate the distribution of matrimonial assets upon divorce.”

The Maldives acceded to the UN Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in July 1993 with reservations to article 16, which deals with equality in marriage and family relations.

“We strongly believe that equality of women in all walks of life, within the family, and in public life, is indeed a prerequisite for social justice and inclusive development that benefits all segments of society,” said Foreign Minister Dunya in her opening remarks at the treaty reporting session.

She reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing emerging challenges such as stereotypical practices that hinders equal representation of women in society.

Issues of concern

Whilst welcoming legislative initiatives on improving access to justice, the committee expressed concern with “persistent barriers faced by women in accessing justice”.

Of particular concern was the “insufficient independence of the judiciary, bias and gender stereotypes among judges and law enforcement officials, the absence of gender sensitive procedures and the limited capacity of the police to deal with complaints from women about violations of their rights in a gender-sensitive manner.”

Noting “the high number of unregistered marriages in rural and remote areas, including child marriages,” the committee recommended setting an age limit of 16 for exceptional cases of underage marriages.

The committee also recommended the abolition of flogging for fornication “as a matter of urgency,” noting that flogging “disproportionately affect women and girls and deter them from reporting sexual offences.”

Moreover, the committee noted the “existing discriminatory provisions regarding the participation of women as witnesses and delays in amending the stringent evidentiary provisions required for sexual violence offences.”

The committee noted that marital rape was not criminalised in law, the lack of enforcement of the anti-domestic violence law, and the lack of resources for the Family and Child Service Centres and safe houses.

The committee suggested that social stigma attached to women who report abuse as well as the perception that domestic violence cases were private family matters deters reporting.

Traditional stereotypes regarding the role and responsibilities of women in society meanwhile remain deeply entrenched, the committee observed, “which overemphasise the role of women as wives, mothers and caregivers, as well as prevent them from asserting their rights and actively participating in decision-making and other aspects of political and public life.”

The committee also expressed concern at “the growing trend in conservative interpretations of religion which encourage stereotypical patterns which negatively impact women and girls, as acknowledged by the State party during the dialogue. The Committee is further concerned about the emergence of cases of female genital mutilation in the State party, despite legislative prohibitions.”

Stereotypes as well as geographic constraints also limit girls’ access to higher education, the committee observed, noting “de facto restrictions on the re-entry of pregnant adolescent girls and married girls under the age of 18 in the formal educational system.”

Whilst noting the high representation of women in political parties, the committee noted that “social and cultural barriers continue to stigmatise women wishing to participate in political and public life which prevent them from running for public office.”

The committee noted the underrepresentation of women in parliament, the executive, the judiciary and decision-making level posts in the civil service.

“Further, it regrets the limited participation of women in local governance at community level, in particular in atolls, islands and city councils,” it stated.

On anti-trafficking, the committee expressed concern over “delays in establishing shelters for victims of trafficking and the absence of procedures for early victim identification, case management, and victim protection” and noted the “risk of internal trafficking for women and girls from remote islands placed in households in Male to access higher education opportunities.”

On health issues, the committee noted “limited access to obstetric health services, including pre- and post-natal services, for women living in remote areas,” “restricted access, in practice, to sexual and reproductive health services, for unmarried women and girls,” and “the absence of a study and data on the prevalence of unsafe and illegal abortion which is reportedly increasing.”


The committee urged the Maldives to honour its commitment to withdraw its reservation to paragraph two of article 16, which states: “The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”

The committee also recommended a review of the reservation to paragraph one of article 16, “with a view to fully withdrawing it, taking into consideration practices of countries with similar religious backgrounds and legal systems which have successfully harmonised their domestic legislation with international human rights obligations”.

Despite its ratification in 1993, the committee noted that the convention “has yet to be incorporated into its domestic legal system and can therefore not be applied by the courts” and expressed concern with the delay in conducting a gender impact analysis of existing laws.

The committee called on the state to pass gender equality legislation with a definition of discrimination in line with the convention.

Referring to the restructured Ministry of Law and Gender headed by the Attorney General, the committee said the move “weakened [the national machinery’s] institutional capacity to develop coherent and sustainable plans and policies and to ensure effective gender mainstreaming across relevant sectors” and expressed concern about the “the insufficient financial, human and technical resources” available to the ministry.

On the Supreme Court’s suo moto proceedings against members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) concerning its submission to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Period Review last year, the committee said “such actions seriously undermine the independence of the commission.”

Related to this story

Amnesty calls for moratorium on flogging in Maldives

Some police officers believe women to blame for domestic violence, says HRCM

Supreme Court slams HRCM for basing rights assessment on “rejected” UN rapporteur findings


Three persons arrested for prostitution in Maafannu

Police have arrested two females and a man on charges of prostitution.

The police said that the two females arrested were aged 29 and 30 while the man was 26 years-old. They confirmed that all those arrested were Maldivians.

According to a police statement, they were arrested in a special operation conducted by police to raid a house in Maafannu called ‘Beauty’ last night at about 11 pm.

When police officers entered their apartment the three of them were involved in sexual activities and they were naked, police said.

Furthermore, the police said that when police officers searched the house they discovered five packets containing illegal narcotics.


Police raids beauty salon, arresting three women and five men

Police last night raided ‘Herbal Beauty Salon’ in Male’,  arresting three Thai women and five Maldivian men for allegedly conducting sexual activities.

A joint special operation with the police’s intelligence department and serious and organized crime department was conducted after police received reports of the offences.

According to the police, when offices raided the premises of the beauty salon some individuals inside the rooms were naked.

A large amount of Maldivian rufiyaa and tools used for sexual activities were found inside the place, the police said.

In August this year, the Criminal Court sentenced the owner of Sondo Born Beauty Care Salon – 64 year-old Abdul Latheef Ali of Henveiru Philadelphi in Male’ – to four years in prison after finding him guilty of running a brothel and forcing three Thai women into prostitution.


Man sentenced to four years in prison for forcing three Thai women into prostitution

The Criminal Court has sentenced the owner of Sondo Born Beauty Care Salon, 64 year-old Abdul Latheef Ali of Henveiru Philadelphi in Male’, to four years in prison after finding him guilty of running a brothel and forcing three Thai women into prostitution.

Three Thai women – aged 21, 24 and 36 – testified in court that Latheef had forced them into prostitution after bringing them to the Maldives, ostentatiously to work as massage therapists.

Police raided the premises of Sonder Born Beauty Care Salon on 10 September 2012 in a special operation, and discovered a naked Maldivian man with a topless Thai woman inside a room in the house.

In a statement, police said a furth search of the premises revealed a supply of “tools used for sexual activities”.

Abdul Latheef brought the three Thai women into the Maldives through the sponsorship of a company called Asparagus Private Limited – a company also owned by Latheef – and put them work in the Sondo Born Beauty Care Salon, police said.

The three Thai women in their statement to police said they were brought to the Maldives to work as massage therapists but when they arrived Latheef had told them that their job description included having sex, and that if they refused to provide sexual services to customers they would be terminated from their job and sent back to their home country.

The Thai women told police that the customers who visited the salon paid at the counter first and then came inside and made another payment to the women, of which Abdul Latheef received a share.

Police said the Thai women had said they gave Abdul Latheef US$300 (MVR 4600) daily.

According to the women’s testimony, Abdul Latheef also handled the reception counter of the salon and was present during the police raid.

Police also said that when they searched the room where the Thai lady and Maldivian man was discovered, they found a large strash of condoms and pills used for sexual activities, and large amount of money.

The Criminal Court considered all these things as supporting evidence and found Abdul Latheef guilty of the crime.


Two Bangladeshis caught naked, arrested for alleged prostitution

Two people allegedly engaged in prostitution were arrested yesterday (June 3), reports local media.

The 19 year-old male and 25 year-old female Bangladeshi nationals were caught naked, police told local media.

After a supposed tip-off the individuals were arrested at approximately 1:30pm in Male’s Heinveiru ward from Kandufinige house, located opposite the Shaheed Ali Mosque.


Four arrested in guesthouse raid on charges of prostitution

Four people were arrested in a guesthouse raid by police on Tuesday night (March 19) as part of an ongoing operation to curb prostitution in Male’.

The latest arrests take place just one week after police raided ‘Roma Beauty and Wellness Centre’ – a beauty salon in Male’ – and arrested 10 individuals on charges of prostitution.

Local media reported that the Tuesday night raid took place at a local guesthouse called ‘Relax @ Kangaroo Inn’ located on Dhiggaamaage in the Heniveru ward of Male’.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef said today (March 20) that two Maldivian men and two Thai women were arrested on Tuesday night around 8:30pm in an “intelligence-led operation”.

“Police received an arrest warrant before raiding one of the rooms within the guesthouse, where the suspects were found naked and engaged in sexual activity.

“Following a search of the room, a number of [sex] toys and over MVR 4000 (US$260) were found by police,” Haneef told Minivan News.

Refuting a report in SunOnline that claimed the Relax @ Kangaroo Inn guesthouse was being run as a brothel, Haneef stated: “We never made a comment to suggest that claim.”

Manager of Relax @ Kangaroo Inn Mohamed Hamid confirmed to Minivan News today that the premises had been raided by police.

“We had no idea that the two men had been with prostitutes at the guest house. The police just came, took them outside and then they were gone,” he added.

Last week, four Maldivians, four Thai women and two Bangladeshi men were arrested in the beauty salon raid.

Police claimed that when police raided the salon four of the 10 people inside the premises were naked and involved in sexual activities.

When police searched the premises of Roma Beauty and Wellness Centre they discovered MVR13,000 (US$845) and “tools used for sexual activities”.

Police said the office of Roma Beauty and Wellness Centre was also searched, where police discovered “other items’’ in connection with the case.


Arrested 98 prostitutes since March: police

Maldivian police have revealed that they have arrested 98 prostitutes in Male’ since March this year, including some expatriate males.

According to police, 58 of the alleged prostitutes have now been deported and sent back to their countries.

In one instance police said a Bangladeshi expatriate who was caught and deported had changed his name and crossed the Maldivian border by changing his information. Police said the person was arrested a second time for involvement in prostitution.

Police custody currently hold four Thai women, two Bangladeshi women and men, and three Maldivians in detention, all of them whom arrested in massage parlors on suspicious of being involved in prostitution.

According to the police statement, police have so far confiscated Rf138783 [USD9011] and USD3155 [Rf48587] found in massage parlors and alternative medical centres closed by the police for running prostitution.

Police said that since March, they have closed down 25 businesses operating as brothels in different operations conducted to reduce serious and organised crime.

The statement quoted police Inspector Mohamed Dhaudh as saying that three businesses were shutdown in March, three businesses shutdown in April, five businesses shutdown in May and six businesses shutdown in June, five businesses shutdown in July, one in August and four closed down in September.

Dhaudh said the operations to raid those businesses were mainly conducted by police intelligence and officers from the serious and organised crime department.

After the new government came in to power, police began special operations to curb the rise in prostitution in the Maldives.

In a mega protest held in Male’ on December last year by a coalition of the then-opposition parties, they demanded Mohamed Nasheed’s government close down all the spas and massage parlors in Male’ accused of running prostitution.