May 27, 2008
Since the middle of last year, at least 14 separate cases of child abuse have been reported in the Maldives’ media.The reported cases involved at least eighteen children, of whom eight were under five. Four of the reported cases were gang rapes, and one a homosexual abuse case.
In the reported cases, a director at the president’s office, two island chiefs, two imams, one lance corporal in the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and two members of Island Development Committees (IDC) have been implicated.
Mohamed Shihab, founder of Facebook group Child Abuse Watch Maldives (CAWM), which now has over 1,000 members, told Minivan News child abuse “is a disease that we [Maldives] have.” According to Shihab, he founded the CAWM Facebook group to lobby for the rights of children, and to create awareness and dialogue.
Shihab told Minivan News the group was created after he questioned senior government officials over the rape of a 15-year-old girl in Villimalé – the fifth ward of Male’– last August. A video of the girl being forcefully parted from her clothing, tied to a tree and fondled was circulated around Malé after the crime.
Shihab does not divulge the authorities’ response to the case, but says it caused him “complete dismay.” He adds, “To date, the matter has not been resolved.”
CAWM is planning a rally on 31 July 2008 against “Injustice to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse”. The event aims to protest against what CAWM says is continued treatment of child abuse as “an acceptable norm” by the judicial system.
Read more here.