Authorities declared on Monday that extremists were depriving children of their rights, such as education and preventive healthcare, in the name of religion.
Speaking about extremism in Maldives at the 'Viavathi Raajje' Councillor Conference held at Crossroads, Maldives Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) noted that a major concern of radicalization was that it robbed children of their rights.
According to the authorities, several cases have been reported over the past few years of children being kept from attending school. In his presentation, MNDF Colonel Naeem said that radicalized individuals think of education as a “western idea”, and kept their children from going to school. He noted that 250 such cases have been reported.
Highlighting statistics from Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services which indicated that vaccine hesitancy was on the rise, Naeem stated that for extremists believed that preventative healthcare was antithetical to reliance on God. Furthermore, authorities noted that such individuals forbade their wives from seeking medical assistance, and would not allow them to consult male doctors.
Among other serious issues, Colonel Naeem highlighted underage forced marriages. Child marriages disproportionately affect girls, and in November 2019, the case of a 13-year-old child that gave birth to the child of her rapist, a man of 26-years whom she "married" a year earlier, shook the country.
Speaking at the panel discussion on extremism, Minister of Defence Mariya Ahmed Didi declared that deprivation of children's rights based on religion was a serious matter, and that the government is taking active measures to counter extremism.