National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Thursday, noted that the government was in discussion to address the possibility of increased domestic violence, having considered the current HPA curfew, and state advised self-isolation measures amid the global ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Responding to a question posed by The Edition, regarding whether the government has planned a national social response or other special measures to aid victims of abuse or domestic violence, the spokesperson stated that preparations are currently undertaken by the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Education over these concerns.
"We have identified it as a potential area of concern. We are working on developing a programme. I have been made aware that discussions are taking place. However, we have not yet been briefed on how far the discussion has advanced. I will be updating you with additional details tomorrow", said Mabrouq.
The question posed by The Edition refers to two statistics of particular concern in the country. One in three women in Maldives reported having experienced either physical or sexual violence once in their lifetimes The second being a significant rise in the number of child sexual abuse cases reported to authorities across January, following the surfacing a shocking case involving a minor, in which the perpetrators were immediate family members.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes domestic violence as a “deadly epidemic” that is also "one of the most widespread, but among the least reported" of human rights abuses.
Several governments and non-governmental organisations around the world are stepping up efforts to protect the vulnerable. Many countries such as the United Kingdom operate national anti-domestic violence hotlines round the clock, while the United States is funding home-based childcare and contraceptives are delivered to households in Australia.
In Maldives, non-government organizations such as ARC (Advocating for the Rights of Children), and FLC (Family Legal Clinic) are collaborating with the Gender Ministry to raise awareness and encourage people in need to report. At present, any and all persons suffering from domestic violence or any form of abuse can reach out for help by calling either hotline; +960 3328393 to reach the gender ministry or +960 9977771 to seek help from FLC.
Presently, Maldives records 19 confirmed and six active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13 recoveries. While there are two confirmed cases of Maldivians, no local to local transmissions have been recorded.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 938,348 people and claimed over 47,286 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 195,371 people have recovered.