DNA testing reveals child sex offender

DNA testing has revealed that a 37 year-old man impregnated a 11 year-old girl in the Feydhoo ward of Addu City, police have said, after concluding investigation of a case that prompted shock and public outrage last month.

The 11 year-old victim in Seenu Feydhoo gave birth two months prematurely on November 1 after being taken to hospital complaining of stomach pains.

The infant died in the early hours of the following morning (November 2).

On November 4, police confirmed that a 37 year-old male suspect had been taken into custody in connection to the case.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Inspector Hassan Shifau, acting head of the Family and Child Protection Department, explained that DNA samples from the infant matched the 37 year-old suspect, Mohamed Javid of Maradhoo-Feydhoo Gulfamge.

Shifau said police obtained DNA samples from all males in the household of the 11 year-old victim.

Javid was a friend of the girl’s parents and visited the house every night, Shifau explained.

Police discovered during the investigation that Javid had been sexually abusing the victim since early 2012, he added.

The second suspect, Adam Saeed, 45, had been living in the girl’s house. Both suspects had previously been arrested on drug-related charges.

The victim meanwhile told police that she did not tell anyone about the abuse she suffered.

Family members and school mates questioned during the investigation said they were unaware that the girl was pregnant as it did not show on her body.

The girl was said to be of a “quiet” and reserved nature.

An official from the Feydhoo health centre told local media last month that “the girl admitted that she got pregnant after someone had sexually molested her.”

In the press briefing, Inspector Shifau appealed to parents to have a closer relationship with their children to ensure that they would be able to share accounts of abuse.

Upon conclusion of the investigation by a team of the Family and Child Protection Department working with the Seenu Gan police station, Shifau said police were in the process of forwarding the case for prosecution.

Child abuse in the Maldives

The case of the 11 year-old giving birth prompted a wider public debate on child sexual abuse in the Maldives, while politicians and NGOs called for a swift investigation.

Speaking to Minivan News at the time, Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed labelled it “a very big crime,” adding that the young girl should not herself take any blame or punishment.

“Personally I can’t say any word to punish a small girl in grade six. This may be a rape or sexual abuse case,” he said.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam said the case was “unacceptable” and “shocking”, demanding on social media that police make the case a high priority.

“An 11 year-old doesn’t get pregnant by herself! This is child abuse we are talking about here n authorities need  to find out who is responsible,” she wrote on Twitter.

However, Ali Rameez, a famous singer who gave up music and now heads the Islamic NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf, tweeted: “All you people who claim to be Muslims! In Allah’s Shariah [law], a child grows up when he or she reaches puberty. Not when they turn 16, 18, 25.”

Rameez, who also hosts a religious program on private radio station SunFM, tweeted earlier that he was “not aware that children could get pregnant.”

The comments were criticised by some social media users including former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam, who tweeted: “Where are the children’s right groups… Where is HRCM.. Horrified with the preaching of people like Ali Rameez.”

Local NGO Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) meanwhile issued a statement calling on the government, civil society organisations and the general public to step up efforts to combat child abuse in society.

“It is an obligation for us as responsible citizens to protect our children, and it is the Maldivian government’s obligation as a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) that all international commitments to protect the rights of all children are adhered to fully,” ARC noted.

Almost one in seven children of secondary school age in the Maldives have been sexually abused at some time in their lives, according to an unpublished 2009 study on violence against minors.

Rates of sexual abuse for girls are almost twice as high than for boys at 20 percent – one in five girls have been sexually abused – while the figure for boys was 11 percent. Girls are particularly at risk in the capital Male’, the report found.

In recent years, local authorities and NGOs have released a number of findings trying to detail the extent of child abuse and wider sexual assaults within society.

The state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital’s (IGMH’s) Family Protection Unit reported in 2010 that the centre was notified of 42 cases of rape between 2005-2010. Most of these cases were found to involve minors.

According to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, 13 rape cases were reported last year alone, the majority of which most were gang rapes or assaults involving minors.


Staff disgruntled as MTCC closes Feydhoo office

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) closed the company’s Addu Mulaku regional office in Seenu Feydhoo, leaving many employees redundant.

MTCC closed the office after the government handed over ferry services for the region to MVK Maldives Pvt Ltd, which commenced services from 1 January.

But many employees from the Feydhoo office feel their terminations have been handled unfairly, holding a demonstration and refusing to allow MTCC to take assets from the office.

An employee who did not wished to be named said “We did not want them to take any of the things back to Male’ until our full salaries and compensation has been paid.

“However, it’s a private party that’s transporting the goods back to Male’ so we don’t want to cause any more trouble. They have already loaded everything onto a boat, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it.”

Many employees said an MTCC official from Male’ had met them at the end of last year and promised a three month termination notice.

“He said we would get three months, as well as holiday and medical pay, but a week after he left we received one month’s notice,” the employee said.

“We have a written document, but it doesn’t have the MTCC stamp on it so we can’t use it in court.”

The staffed also claimed they had received a much smaller amount than that promised.

Another staff member who was made redundant said “how can I describe how I’m feeling? I have a family to look after. It’s very difficult now.”

A disgruntled employee said he had been forced to beg around the island.

“I am doing odd jobs here and there – it’s very hard to find work these days,” he said.

Ahmed Zareef, the manager of the Feydhoo office, said that the MTCC manager who promised three months’ notice hadn’t given anything official, “It was just his word.”

“The notice said employees should receive Rf3000 (US$233) but many have recieved Rf1900 (US$147). It’s a big loss for these men, they have families to take care of.”

Asked what would happen to him, Zareef replied “I will lose my job as well. I was offered an MTCC job in Male’, but how can I live in Male’ on a basic salary when the living expenses are so high there?”

MTCC response

Ahmed Zaki, another MTCC manager, said that the company follows employment regulations set by the government.

“The employment regulations state that all employees who have been with the company between one to five years will get a one month notice,” he said.

“The stories of an official from Male’ saying three months are hard to believe. He would not have said that.”

“All employees were given opportunities in MTCC in other regions,” Zaki added.

“We have also been talking to the employees for a few months prior to the termination notices, telling them about the possibility of the Feydhoo office closing.”