Court extends detention of man accused of beating wife unconscious

Police have arrested a 33 year-old man charged with physically abusing his wife on Vilingili in Gaaf Alif Atoll, reports Haveeru, after the wife’s family reported the abuse.

The Vilingili magistrate court extended the detention of Ahmed Mueed by 15 days, while the woman has been hospitalised in Male.

Haveeru reported the victim’s brother as alleging that the woman was severely bruised and unable to speak properly, after Mueed beat her unconscious in front of their four year-old step daughter.


India needs Nasheed win in September: First Post

India may pat itself on the back as former President of Maldives Mohammed Nasheed has been confirmed as a candidate in the 7 September presidential elections by the Election Commission of Maldives, writes Rajeev Sharma for First Post.

Nasheed came calling in New Delhi this week on a two-pronged mission: (i) to thank his Indian friends without whose support he won’t have made it to the Presidential race; and (ii) to once again sensitise his Indian interlocutors to prevent “many a slip between the cup and the lip” kind of situation in his case.

Let’s be clear about Nasheed’s India mission.

He was here primarily centered on the ‘take’ part as he is not in a position to ‘give’ anything to India. His ‘give’ quotient, however, should not be underestimated as the first concrete deliverable he can give to India, particularly to the poll-bound UPA government, is to reverse the executive decision of the Maldives government to terminate the US$500 million GMR contract for the development and upgrade of the Male International Airport, the single largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Maldives ever got.

The GMR deal continues to be the single biggest obsession for the Congress-led UPA government, which if reversed, will inevitably yield the necessary electoral fire-power to the present Indian government. Such a development will allow the UPA government to tell the foreign policy-savvy electorate (though a small number) that Maldives is not lost to India!

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Parliament grants elections commission further MVR 9 million

Parliament has approved a further MVR 9 million (US$584,000) to the Elections Commission, ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September, reports local media.

EC President Fuad Thaufeeq told parliament’s finance committee that the first round of the election would cost MVR 37 million (US$2.4 million) to hold, with a further MVR 17 million (US$1.1 million) needed in the event of a run-off second round.

The EC had already spent MVR 13.4 million (US$869,000) of the MVR 59 million (US$3.8 million) budget approved by parliament, he said.

The committee approved the EC’s request for a further MVR 9 million, with the EC in return pledging to cut down on costs and use ferry services where possible.


Red Crescent to support Ville-Male orphanage

The Maldivian Red Crescent has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health and Family to support the Ville-Male Children’s House orphanage.

Haveeru reported that under the one year agreement, the Red Crescent would identify assistance needed for the orphanage and provide it, raising grants through international organisations where necessary.

The MoU was signed at the Health Ministry by Minister Dr Aminath Jameel and Secretary General of the Maldivian Red Crescent, Rasheeda Ali.


‘State dowry’ for Maldivians who marry foreigners

A new rule requires Maldivians who wish to marry foreigners to seek permission from the Ministry of Immigration and Emmigration, and pay a deposit.

According to the new law, instituted today, the Maldivian would-be spouse must pay the deposit money to the ministry as per existing requirements for work visas.

Prior to that, a specific form designed for mixed marriages has to be completed and submitted to the immigration department for approval.

Resident permits for foreigners married to Maldivians will also be renewed only upon the payment of the deposit, meaning those already married must also pay.

“It’s horrible, it makes me feel like a worker in Maldives and not part of this country,” was the reaction of Sasha, a British woman married to a Maldivian for the past six years.

Tightening regulations

“We are not the ones giving approval, a form has to be filled out and once the family court has approved and stamped it, we will give the go ahead,” says Controller of Immigration, Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim.

Ilyas signed off on the contentious rule, but says it was on the request of the family court.

“Too many Maldivians are getting married to foreigners,” he said, adding that it was mostly done for “bad purposes.”

He cites the case of contract marriages: “Mostly it’s Bangladeshi men who get the girl to marry him, and then she is paid a monthly sum,” he said.

He also says there have been cases of Nigerian men hooking up with Maldivian girls through the internet, then coming to the country and getting married “and after a few months he doesn’t even have enough money to cover his expenses.”

Ilyas said people had been returned to their home countries after a divorce “on the government’s expense.”

The registrar of the family court Ahmed Abdulla agreed with Ilyas, saying too many false marriages were occurring “mostly for visas or other purposes.”

He said the new ruled was intended to protect Maldivian women, as ”men get married here, and just take off without divorcing the woman, or paying her living expenses.”

130 mixed marriages were registered in the Maldives last year, mostly to natives of neighboring countries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Ahmed says a few extreme cases also have occurred, where Maldivian kids have been taken abroad by the foreign partner.

“Recently a Maldivian woman was divorced and sent back, while the man kept their kids and to this day she has not been able to get any news of them.”

Abdullah refuses to name the country, saying simply its located “near the Middle East”.

The deposit scheme was not “a total solution” but it was “a necessary step”, he said.

“When bad things happen we have to react.”

The family court has also brought changes to existing criteria for approving mixed marriages.

“Before a foreigner had to earn a monthly minimum of Rf5000 (US$380) to get married. Now the earnings have to be Rf15,000 (US$1150),” he said.

Such criteria were necessary, he said, “as a lot of Bangladeshi men don’t earn enough to take care of their families and this gives rise to social problems.”

Lack of Rights

Sasha’s husband says the new rule “disgusts” him.

“I did not bring her here to work for me,” he says.

Despite his unhappiness with the new rule, he acknowledges that it does offer some protection to foreign women stranded in the Maldives.

“Girls who face abuse and are victimised one way or the other in their marriages; at least they will be able to leave the country if they want to now.”

But, he believes, another way should be found to tackle the issue.

Interestingly enough, the person who implemented the rule, Ilyas, is also married to a foreigner.

“For the rights of the foreign partner one should turn towards the Majlis, there are no regulations that give them any rights on this soil,” he says.

He refers to an existing regulation whereby a foreigner can apply for citizenship after 12 years, if he or she is well versed in Dhivehi, in the religion, and supplies certificates for other criteria.

“But even with all these requirements, it still depends on the mood of the president if a person can be given citizenship.”

Ilyas cites the name of a well known doctor, among the four people who have been granted this privilege by the previous government.

“You can be married for 25 to 60 years and still live here on a resident permit.”

His wife is not eligible for health insurance, and everywhere they go they have to queue separately.

“I can’t even get her registered as a member of my household,” he notes.

However he says this rule would offer her a degree of protection, if they ever divorced.

“It’s not the status of a worker, but that of a foreigner. Here you remain a foreigner forever; the regulations don’t give them even half the rights of a Maldivian.”

Sacha’s resident permit must to be renewed in four years.

“If I remain here forever, the money will remain locked in a deposit in the ministry. Is this a way to generate interest from funds?” she questions.

She says her friends who are in mixed marriages will be furious.

“I have a baby, would I have to pay a 50 per cent deposit for him also since he is half-foreign?”

Her business is also registered in the name of her husband: “I can’t even own anything here, I have no rights and now I have the status of a foreign worker.”

Sasha’s name changed on her request.