Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services Aishath Mohamed Didi, on Friday, expressed solidarity with protestors demanding justice for victims of sexual assault.
"For far too long, the system has failed to protect our women and our children from sexual harassment and abuse", the minister stated in a Facebook post acknowledging concerns raised during a string of recent protests.
She went on to express the urgent need to reform the procedures surrounding the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences as well as the necessity of fostering changes in social attitudes toward such crimes.
Public discontent over the state's poor record of arresting and convicting sex offenders erupted following widespread allegations of undue political influence in the case involving the sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman aboard a safari docked at Hulhumale' lagoon.
On June 29, the police used pepper spray against protesters gathered in front of the Gender Ministry in the capital city of Male' and arrested one individual.
In Maldives' first recorded instance of a protest being carried out on the premises of the parliament, demonstrators sported signboards calling for decisive action on sexual assault cases.
The latest protest urging the government to expedite cases and apprehend rapists was staged on Friday evening.
Additionally, a collective of gender equality advocates from Family Legal Clinic (FLC), Nufoshey and Uthema Maldives recently launched the #FundOurSafety initiative to secure a list of demands including the reallocation of state funds for the protection of victims.
Prior to the disruption caused by the global COVID-19 outbreak, the public voiced similar expressions of concern over the lack of justice for survivors of sexual assault. This string of protests was sparked mid-January by a case involving the sexual abuse of a two-year-old at the hands of her grandfather and great-grandfather in Kanduhulhudhoo, Gaaf Alif Atoll.
The former Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services, Shidhatha Shareef also tendered her resignation on February 6, following mounting pressure over negligence in cases of child sexual abuse.