Category Archives: Society

Child Abuse Watch Maldives

I would like to call upon like minded people who can contribute in whatever form possible to an effort under the label of "CAWM" (Child Abuse Watch Maldives) as a collective contribution to society; to inform and deal with child abuse in the Maldives and to advocate for its elimination. Contributions can be in the form of resouces, expetise, technical know how, financial assistance, or just moral support. This will be a national-community effort.
The purpose of CAWM shall be to research, study and report child abuse in the country and to lobby for action on multiple fronts to make Maldives a society that understands and responds to child abuse appropriately.
Your ideas, suggestions and contributions are welcome!  

Posted by on August 15, 2007 in Society


Our Children: A forgotten species!

Teacher caught red-handed molesting 8 year old boy!
The above news has so far not been reported in the Maldives Police Service website; similar to the torture, rape and video case of a 15 year old girl in Villingili. It is alarming that the majority of us seem to be blind to the fate of our children. We have more important things to do. We have no time to attend to our children’s future. We are only good at making speeches and fantastic plans and world class reports.
I can only despise the people who have the capcity to digest the plight of the helpless children in our country who are abused, raped and tortured; because there are more important things for them to do. I go bonkers seeing the millions of Rufiyaa that are being spent by the government, the political parties, and the parliament to promote the form of government they favor. Theyhave no time, energy or money for the children.  
The human rights commission has been late to respond to the crisis facing our children. Our parliament, so fond in brining forth petitions on issues of concern to the honorable members, have not raised the matter so far. Our children are sadly left to fend for themselves, despite the alarming number of incidents that has been reported in the media thus far in the past few months. Multiple incidents in the span of a few months don’t seem to have been a cause for concern in the quarters that matter.
The Sunny Side of Life … paradise on earth for some, including the visitors to the world renowned resorts and spas of this country; but not the same sunny paradise for the children of this country; is said to be an examplary democracy. Yet, we have a state that has failed to be accountable to the plight of its children in a meaningful way, to the right degree at the right time.
Who is accountable? Accountablity means someone will respond. Yet we don’t see anyone responding responsibly and meaningfully to the abuse and torture of our children.
We are a nation that has forgotten and neglected its children. Woe be on those who are responsible!
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Posted by on August 14, 2007 in Society


Two Sides of a Coin

Yesterday evening as I was coming back from the Night Market, I came across a distant relative who was running a stall in the market. She said that she had along with six other friends of hers who worked in the same office. They were all from the Sales and Marketing Department of the company.l She said that they got an in-law to get a stall for them and went on trip to Colombo. Of the four who went, two tickets were chipped in by the company. They spent around 40,000.00 Rufiyaa to buy children’s items and household goods. They put up the goods in a house of one of the team.
According to my relative, the whole office knew that they were involved in this and showed immense support. Since they could only go home very late in the night (early in the morning), the office did not mind them turning up for work even around ten thirty, where work began at nine o’clock. She spoke very fondly of her employers. She also told me that they were lucky that they got help from a driver of a pickup to take their goods to the market for fifty Rufiyaa and and a hundred and fifty Rufiyaa for the return trip.  
Then on Villingili I bumped into one of my midnight tea-cafe friends who was up for something at one thirty in the morning. He told me about his employer of nearly ten years who refused to give him shorter working hours for a lesser salary when he fell ill. He told me how he was one of the most senior five employees in the setup then, which now is a big establishment. He told me several more stories about this employer and his plight and his staff; none of which were positive. I finally got the better of my tea-cafe friend and managed to get home to sleep; but with a much better understanding of why a company like Chevron focuses on human energy on top of all things, integral to everything.
We have in our country somehow not yet reached a point where we value human energy or human capital. But some companies have started to focus on their human capital and create ambassadors like my relative I have mentioned at the start of this post. But Alas! Human capital for what purpose / what end? We do not seem to have a formula for creating conditions that would enhance human capital development; the core of which is housing. Our government and parliamentarians seem to be more concerned about tourism development and building resorts than the welfare and human capital of our country.
Would that mean that a government and parliament are detremental to our society? Should we do away with our cabinet and parliament as a form of government? Is it the system or the people?
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Posted by on July 31, 2007 in Society


There is a truth behind the truth: the truth is a fabricated deception!

This evening I came home early. It was just after eight o’clock as I passed by CTrue Opticals. The owner Mr. Shareef is a good friend of mine, since our acquaintance in the Maldives Hotel and Trade Exhibition about three years ago. He was outside the shop and I stopped by to say hello to him. We talked about business and the challenges faced by small businesses in special.
A friend of Shareef, who is seemingly in his thirties walked past and made a remark, "Nizaamee nuguthaa eh ebaoiy tha? / (Is there a point of order?)" to which Shafeef said, "No, we are just talking about business. We don’t have time for other things as time does not permit!" However, his friend came back to us and started talking about the Special Majlis sessions that the public is been treated to lately on television.
According to this young man, what we were seeing was a scheme by Maumoon to discredit Gasim and rid him of the love of the people of this country that he has earned through his generosity. He said that what Gasim is doing and his decisions in his capacity as Chair of the Special Majlis were beyond his control – all orchestrated by the Grand Master Maumoon. He said that now names are being called at Gasim in the Special Majlis (and on national television); such as "Chaaru Gasim" that were all a conceived by Maumoon. He approved of the names called at Gasim and the disrespect to him, to the extent of proposing that Gasim has earned and deserved it.
I tried to tell him, despite all I would like to respect and remember Gasim for the many things that make us proud of him as a Maldivian. I tried to impress upon him (in vain, of course) that he was talking about a very short span of Gasim’s life. Unfortunately, for me, he could not be convinced. It was as if Gasim has committed blasphemy. So, I just listened to him.
A while later when he walked away I tried to tell Shareef, why I did not contest the man. Shareef said that there was no point in arguing, because they were convinced of the truth in their views, that it would be fruitless trying to convince an argument to them. We agreed that it was more important for us to make ends meet – leave the job of politics to the politicians!
So, we move on!
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Posted by on July 23, 2007 in Society


Human Development: Neglected

| DATE: 2007-07-14 | HAVEERU

Three men accused of sexually assaulting an underaged schoolgirl and uploading explicit content of the assault onto the internet were arrested by Thinadhoo Police Station on Wednesday.

The assault had occurred on the 30th of last month after the three men had kidnapped the 16-year-old Gaafu Dhaalu atoll Vaadhoo School student while she was walking on the street. The men had sexually assaulted her after dragging her off to a nearby vacant house. They had also taken pictures of the assault which they had later uploaded onto the internet.

Two of the men were Fares-Maathodaa residents while one was from Vaadhoo. The men were arrested after police had received information from the victim.According to a police official, Thinadhoo Police Station has now confiscated the pictures and the case is now being investigated.

Sexual abuse has been a taboo in our society for long. According to well-informed people that I know, it has been a problem in our society for long. However, the escalation of the issues "put under the carpet" coupled with the onslaught of globalization and the information technology explosion, has never been fully understood or appreciated. Maldivian naievity has allowed the culprits to explore new avenues for their fantasies without legal or social impediments. Awareness on related issues has been neglected or blocked for fear of turnishing the "good name" of the country.

It is this fear that has conveniently neglected the related aspects of human development and empowerment, for children and parents as well as enacting legislation and the creation of social infrastructure and civil society organs capable of handling future issues (now current).

This neglect needs to be addressed right now if we care for our future. But, who cares?

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Posted by on July 16, 2007 in Society


Fear on the Streets of Male'

At dawn this morning, I was on my way to Villingili Ferry terminal. I walked the almost bare streets of the capital island at six in the morning accept for the few people on vehicles on their way to work or to sleep. As I turned into Majeedee Magu around the corner of Nalahiya Hotel, the street was almost empty. I noticed a teenage boy approaching a middle aged expatriate woman and then back off from her. She looked up, then walked briskly on – at a distance from where I was. Then the boy jaywalked to an elderly man walking by on the other side of the road and he looked up kind of alarmed and the boy moved away from him too. The boy jaywalked towards me. He said, "Beybey (Brother)! If you can’t just say it. I have been locked out of my house. I have to make a call home. Please help me. If you cannot it is all right." He had a cigarette to his mouth, had red bloo-shot eyes, could speak with an effort, and definitely was in a mental state in which he was capable of doing anything to get what he wanted.
"My phone is a pre-paid and I have run out of credit! I am sorry," I told him. But I was quite nervous. He could easily take out a blade out of his pocket and cut me up, if I refused to comply with his request. (I was just a few hours ago told that these boys now have gone to the extent of just walking into peoples homes with daggers demanding what they want, and when they have it simply walked out!) Fortunately, the boy was in a sober state than I had feared, he said it’s ok and move on, away. I took the next lane toward Eid Miskiiy and went my own way.
In the conversation I had over a cup of tea last night, a dear friend told me that as he was passing by MPA / Customs area, a group of nearly a dozen young people had beat an expatriate to death almost. He said that as this person was walking by he happened to stumble on one of the gang who were having a gang meet on the side of the road. They stood up told every one nearby that should anyone try to protect him, they would cut them up good. So everyone looked on as this person was beaten, blood coming out of his mouth. According to my friend, the person’s internal organs would be lucky to be intact.
Some people would say my fear is unfounded. That the streets of Male’ are safe. That these are singular and isolated incidents. That it is a part of the reform process. I just hope that our political leaders do not label the people who are beaten and cut up on the streets of Male’ and in their homes, as collateral damage. That is what modern day champions of democracy call the unfortunate people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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Posted by on July 15, 2007 in Society


Joy Riders of Male'

This Friday I had gone to Dharubaaruge to fetch my daughter from Dharubaaruge where she was attending a UC MAS class. As I rode in a vehicle past the Hakatha fuel station on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, we saw a huge crowd gathered on both sides of the road and some bikers who seemed to be showing off their biking skills to the crowd who were gathered there. A little beyond the crowd we were confronted with a police zigzag line of cones through which we had to manouver. At the corner of Dharubaaruge (just next to no.8 gaadiyaa) the cones had blocked the road and a traffic police sign instructed a diversion to the left. My friend left me at the gaadiyaa and drove off, as he was on his way somewhere.
A minute had not passed by when a band of bikers had come up to the diversion point and raced their engines all together and had showed off to the lonely policeman at the point. After a while they rode off with much noise and the line of bikers continued (mixed with those who were out for an evening ride) for a few minutes. The bikers who were entertaining themselves were young and most of them looked the type you don’t want to meddle with.
I slowly walked my way to the front (or is it the back?) of Dharubaaruge to fetch my daughter who will be finishing at 7.15 pm. As she came out and we walked toward Henveiru, the joy riders came and zoomed past us. The people on the street were taken aback and fear showed on the faces of some of the young kids who were coming out. As we walked the beach road to Alimas Carnival (roughly fifteen minutes walking distance for us), we came across the same bikers twice.
It is quite alarming that the streets of Male’ are left to joy riders; who have nothing more meaningful to do, or who don’t seem to have respect for the ordinary people on the streets. I am sure that meaninful engagement with young people (in this case the bikers) to focus their energy on more meaningful and productive endevours would be more beneficial to the society as well as the young people themselves. But the question is, who will make that meaningful effort in an effective way.
It is the likes of us, who break our backs day and night to fuel the lifestyles of these younge people. They don’t have to work to earn a living or to do what they do. I may be wrong (correct me if I am), but there cannot be a bright future for us with the street gangs who are mushrooming from all quarters in Male’. I don’t want to be a judge of right and wrong; but I would like to question the responsibility of parents and society in developing our young people into productive citizens.
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Posted by on July 14, 2007 in Society


Our Heritage – a culture of prejudice; Let's be proud of it!

This afternoon I came across a very senior member of the opposition party who was very critical of the announcement yesterday or the day before by President Maumoon Abdual Gayyoom, that he would allow service in temporary employment in government to be counted for pension. In Maldives government service (which is soon to become the Maldives Civil Service by law) pension is given for continuous service to the government for twenty years. If you have interrupted service except for study leave, you will not get pension unless you are given a special consideration by the President.
Though there are pensioners, double-pensioners and even triple pensioners; there is no pension fund which means the pension scheme becomes a burden on the future budgets of the government. And people who has served the nation in very challenging circumstances do not have the benefits which are enjoyed by government staff for serving the country. This is mainly a result of a long held perception that service to the country is when one serves the government (until as recently as 1968 that would mean the King). The mindset is a part of our national heritage that we have to be proud of, if we are to believe the government.
The feeling of a second class citizen is quite common place in this country; after all we are really second class – that is unless you have royal blood in your veins or heil from a family who were their loyal court members. When the influx of people started toward Male, everything was done to ensure that the interests of the Male landlords will be served. And the development of the nation was planned in such a manner that Male would become the business hub and the money tinting machine for the landlords. Some fortunate second classers also got land and shed their thick skin and became the elite ciitizens of this divine nation.
The culture of prejudice that is our heritage has several peculiar elements of which pension to government staff only, is just one.
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Posted by on July 4, 2007 in Society


Unfit & Out-of-place

Yesterday evening, I went to Male International Airport to fetch my brother who was coming from Colombo. At the arrival terminal I decided to take a mini statement of my bank account, as it was announced an upgrade of the system will take place during the weekend and service will be discontinued from midnight Thursday night to Friday noon. But you can never be sure that the databases will be absolutely intact after an upgrade. I have reasons not to trust information technology to the extent of perfection (in Maldives).
I queued up behind three people. As I was standing in the queue, a young man walked to the person who was taking out the money from the machine at the time, and tried to grab the money from him. The older man behind, went to grab the "man-organ" of the culprit. A young girl in uniform looking at this smiled!
As I turned right, there were three young men in various uniforms, chatting. Another young man walked up to them, lit up a lighter and put it to the ass of one. He felt the heat and turned back, all started laughing; the girl in uniform watched and smiled heartily in absolute amusement!
All those around, were laughing and enjoying the fun of what was going on. I was shocked, I suddenly realized how much out-of-place I have become in the modern day Maldives. I couldn’t enjoy a single moment of all this!
Where are we headed as a nation? Our president preached the importance of "thandhoru dhanna" (educated) young people, in a sermon in Thaa Atoll about ten years ago. I couldn’t help wondering whether his lieutenants heard what the general had to say! And he had promised "ufaaveri kurimageh" (a pleasnt future) for the nation, in the run up to the presidential election four years ago. He had put together the youngest and most academically qualified cabinet thus far in his six five year terms in office, following that election.
Who is responsible? Why have we lost the decency, integrity and respect – values that were the cultural identity of the people of this nation! Did we lose it, or is it just my inability to come to terms with a modern soceity!
How can we make a difference?
Mohamed Shihab / Smile and Let Smile
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Posted by on June 28, 2007 in Society


Making a Difference!

This evening I went to a special general meeting of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI). Eighteen members turned up for the meeting – twenty five is required for a qourum to hold a meeting. The meeting was cancelled as is the case quite often. The members who turned up complained to the secretariat on behalf of those who did not. Some complained that it was what the secretariat wanted – for the members not to turn up. Some others complained that the time was not appropriate – that it should have been eight thirty instead of eight o’clock. Yet others complained that the Chamber Executive Board should have known that the Prize Giving Ceremony of Aminiya School was to be held tonight and a special session of the People’s Special Majlis was scheduled for tonight. The membership of MNCCI is in access of 400 registered members!
I could not help but think of how we desired others to make everything right for us. I never heard of one person who mentioned what he would do differently the next time to make the meeting happen. Everyone was anxious to tell what someone else could do – not what he/she could do. This is the fate of most of us. I see this day in day out; with family, friends, at work, all around me.
I cannot help but wonder how much of a difference we could make, if we trained our minds to focus on solutions – to engage ourselves in making a difference. But that happens only when people have a purpose in life; when people are aware of the reasons for doing something they can do to make a difference.
I wish there was a society in our midst who would take it upon themselves to educate people on the reasons for engaging themselves in making a difference, in achieving what they wanted. It is so simple yet so unattainable in a nation where we have been brought up to have others fend for us. In something as simple as holding a meeting, people expect to be reminded personally a day before and fifteen minutes before the meeting – in addition to publication of an announcement in the daily papers.
Only if we were aware why we should engage ourselves to make a difference – that would be empowerment!
Mohamed Shihab / Smile and Let Smile
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Posted by on June 25, 2007 in Society

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