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'Voice of Children' hosts third march demanding justice for sexual crimes

Ahmed Aiham
11 July 2020, MVT 18:21
"Blame the system, not the victim" read a placard used by a protestor at the march. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
11 July 2020, MVT 18:21

Child rights groups on Friday, hosted their third march demanding police accountability and justice for victims of rape and sexual offences.

Organised by non-profit organisation Voice of Children (VOC), the protest began as a peaceful gathering. However, confrontations occurred between officers and protesters over Maldives Police Services' initial attempt to stop participants from exercising their right to assemble.

Protesters criticized the incumbent administration's constant assurance that the government has a "zero-tolerance policy" towards rape and sexual abuse.

The public outrage is fueled by a string of sex crimes reported recently, followed by controversial arrests and alleged misconduct of police.

Initially gathering at the central intersection of Majeedhee Magu and Chaandhanee Magu in the capital Male', protestors then marched towards the Social Centre, where a self-defence demonstration was held for participants.

As part of the aforementioned confrontations, protestors broke police cordons surrounding the Social Centre and marched east-bound on Majeedhee Magu, where they were cordoned off again, near the furniture shop 'Sunfront Living', roughly a few hundred meters from the centre.

VOC have also expressed their support for the '#JaagaEhNei' movement, which is set to gather on Sunday, July 12 at 1330 hrs.

The movement will call on the state to ensure that perpetrators of sexual injustices are convicted to the fullest extent of the law, whilst also demanding the abolishment of selective and tokenist justice against such heinous crimes.

Recently, a collective of gender equality advocates originating from Family Legal Clinic (FLC), Nufoshey and Uthema Maldives also launched the #FundOurSafety initiative, voicing a list of demands including the reallocation of state funds toward the protection of victims.

Public ire continues to soar over the government's meagre record of arresting and convicting perpetrators of sexual offences despite several promises to support the rights of children and women.

Amidst the ongoing outcry, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih sacked Ali Waheed from his post as Minister of Tourism on Thursday, marking the first minister to be terminated over allegations of sexual assault in Maldives' history.

The Senior Policy Director at the Ministry, and close associate of Waheed, Mohamed Hassaan, was also dismissed soon after Waheed's termination.

Authorities and the government have yet to reveal the nature behind the allegations against former high-level officials at the ministry.

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