The Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services has commenced efforts to establish temporary, functional shelters for victims of domestic violence in Maldives.
According to the ministry, total of five shelters will be established in Kulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Funadhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, Veymandoo in Thaa Atoll, Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Vilimale' in the capital city of Male'.
The aforementioned shelters will be funded under assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (3/2012) mandates the establishment of shelters with adequate staff and facilities in order to assist victims of domestic violence in resuming a better quality of life, the continuation of support services in a sustainable manner, as well as determining and monitoring the standards, rules and objectives of such centres.
In July, a collective of gender equality advocates originating from Family Legal Clinic (FLC), Nufoshey and Uthema Maldives launched the #FundOurSafety initiative, voicing a list of demands which includes the sufficient allocation of resources for safe shelters to ensure that they are not simply built for the purpose, but are fully functional in addressing these needs.
Criticizing the state's failure to establish the centres as stipulated by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act eight years prior, the initiative elaborated that the presence of trained social workers and counselors in inhabited islands would support the mitigation, early detection and response to domestic violence cases.
It was particularly highlighted that the presence of proper safety shelters could encourage women to come forward with reports of abuse, as they are aware that the option to leave an abusive situation is available.
As per the Maldivian government's fifth Periodic State Report on the United Nations regulatory body regarding the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), four safe houses currently in existence are considerably under funded.
Public ire remains high concerning the government's meagre record of arresting and convicting perpetrators of sexual offences despite several promises to support the rights of children and women in Maldives.
According to 'The Maldives Study on Women’s Health and Life Experiences' conducted by the Gender Ministry in 2006, one in three women and girls have reported experiencing either physical or sexual violence, or both, at least once during their lifetimes.