The Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services on Sunday reiterated its commitment to empowering girls and women, and combatting gender-based violence.
In a statement released on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child 2020, the gender ministry's Child and Family Protection Service declared that it was endeavouring to inspire higher self-esteem and value in girls, develop every female as a capable individual, and increase women inclusion in senior posts.
The Service also expressed gratitude for the cooperation given to its efforts to prevent and curb gender-based violence against girls and women.
The United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child on December 19, 2011, with the aim to empower girls around the world to overcome the various challenges they face, ensure their rights, and establish gender equality. The theme for this year is 'My voice, our equal feature', which calls to raise girls' voices and push for equal opportunities in policy-making.
The ongoing year has been mired by various cases of sexual abuse against children, several of the victims being girls, while a number of cases were also lodged at the gender ministry regarding domestic and gender-based violence, which especially saw an increase with the easing of some COVID-19 related lockdown measures at the end of May.
Recent statistics released by the gender ministry show that a total of 103 cases were submitted in August regarding violence perpetrated against children. Instances of sexual abuse were noted to be the most frequently reported with 36 cases.
The ministry also recorded 28 cases of gender-based and domestic violence in August, the majority of which consisted of physical abuse and emotional abuse cases, with 10 reports each.
Globally, alarm has been raised over the higher incidence of domestic and gender-based violence amid COVID-19 lockdown measures and movement restrictions, with several vulnerable individuals forced to remain in at-risk environments.
Since the beginning of the year, public ire has grown considerably, regarding the government's meagre record of arresting and convicting sexual offenders, despite numerous promises to protect the rights of children and women.
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 including the establishment of shelters and reallocation of state funds for the protection of victims.
In early September, the country saw a breakthrough when the parliament passed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code which finally list rape and sexual abuse of minors as major criminal offences.