Human Rights Commission of the Maldives

Press Release: PR - 017/2020

Published on 25-11-2020

International day on Elimination of Violence Against Women 2020

25 November is observed worldwide as International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. It aims at eliminating gender-based discrimination, providing safety and support for the survivors of gender-based violence and raising awareness on violence against women. The theme for United Nations-Secretary general’s campaign on elimination of violence against women for this year is:

"Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"

UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, COVID-19 and Global Impact on Violence against Women assessment finds that violence against women and girls has increased during the COVID-19 lockdown. In the previous 12 months, 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the world have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner. Hence, the campaign on elimination of violence against women focuses on prioritizing fund to fight the cause, responding to protecting survivors, preventing and collecting data to improve services.

According to quarterly reports of April and June 2020 by Family Protection Authority, 74% of cases logged on domestic violence were against women. The nature of cases includes psychological, physical, emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and harassment. Cases logged with Human Rights Commission of the Maldives were mainly of psychological abuse. During the visits conducted by National Preventive Mechanism to the places of detention and centers where girls and women are kept under state care, issues affecting women’s dignity, negligence of women’s mental health, gender discriminative procedures and lack of special health care required for women was observed.
Furthermore, the Commission has noted that cases of violence against women are not adequately investigated. This includes challenges in the process of investigation, prosecution and conviction. In addition to this, lack of budget, difficulty in transportation, poorly trained staff on the issue of violence against women, lack of proper mechanisms for witness protection, poor cooperation among institutions and lack of awareness on relevant legislations among law enforcement officials and judges were noted. During Covid-19 monitoring, the Commission also noted lack of information
provided for pregnant women on changes to health care services and challenges faced by survivors of violence against women in seeking help.

Hence, the Commission reiterates it recommendation on strengthening the work done by the State on creating a safe environment for women free from violence. This requires providing necessary resources and establishing safe shelters mandated by act no: 3/2012 (Prevention of Domestic Violence Act) by the end of 2021. Also, the Commission urges the State to implement its recommendation on providing necessary training for service providers, ensuring free legal counsel for survivors of gender-based violence and providing resources and budget to strengthen the current system.

While appreciating the work of non-government organizations on violence against women, the Commission emphasizes the need to assist and protect NGOs working on the cause. Also, the Commission urges the state to ensure easy access to care, social protection and mental health service for the survivors of abuse. The Commission calls the state to work on prevailing protection mechanism, streamline services provided by the institutions to ensure justice for survivors of violence and guarantee that perpetrators are prosecuted duly. Constant family support is essential for survivors and harmful attitude towards violence against women must be resolved by increasing cumulative advocacy by media, non-governmental organizations and the state. At all times, media must respect the dignity and rights of victims and survivors when reporting cases of gender-based violence.