Human Rights Commission of the Maldives

Press Release: PR - 016/2020

Published on 19-11-2020

The World Day on the Prevention of Child Abuse is marked on 19th November each year globally, to reiterate on the importance of preventing the abuse of children, protecting children from various forms of abuses, providing care, treatment and rehabilitation for the victims of child abuse. The day also aims to increase public awareness on child abuse and empower children against abuse. Like many other developing countries, Maldives has a large percentage of young population. According to Population and Housing Census 2014, 33 percent of the population consist of children under the age of 18 . Article 35 of the Constitution of the Maldives states that children and young people are entitled to special protection and special assistance from the family, the community and the State. Children and young people shall not be harmed, sexually abused, or discriminated against in any manner and shall be free from unsuited social and economic exploitation. Furthermore, Child Rights Act (19/2019) and Juvenile Justice Act (18/2019) are notable developments in strengthening the legal framework on promotion and protection of rights of children. According to Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020 published by UNICEF, globally, it is estimated that one out of two children aged 2–17 years’ experience some form of violence each year. The report also states that COVID-19 pandemic and societies’ response to it has had a dramatic impact on the prevalence of violence against children due to school closures, movement restrictions, loss of income, isolation, and overcrowding, levels of stress and anxiety in parents. According to the statistics published by Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services, a total of 889 cases were reported from January 2020 to September 2020 on violence against children. Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has received 22 cases in 2018, 19 cases in 2019 and 22 cases in 2020 related to child rights. The nature of cases includes bullying, harassment, negligence, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and negligence by state authorities mandated to promote and protect rights of children. During monitoring visits conducted by the Commission to places where children are kept under State care, it was observed that children who require psycho-social support and counselling were not provided these services on a regular basis. Hence, full implementation of Child Rights Protection Act and Juvenile Justice Act is paramount in effective realization of child rights. Institutions mandated to promote and protect rights of children need to be provided with adequate resources and facilities. Furthermore, the State needs to ensure safety and security for the victims of child abuse without delay and ensure justice for the victims and their families. The Commission reiterates its recommendation on providing regular psycho-social support and counselling services to survivors of abuse under State care. While everyone shares the responsibility of ensuring safety and well-being of children and protect them from harm, the key responsibility of creating a safe and healthy environment for children is bestowed on parents and families. Anyone who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may need protection must promptly report the case to authorities. In order to support children through these challenging times, it is important to ensure that daily routine of children is organized in a way that physical, mental, and social development of the children is promoted. The Commission would also like to recognize the role of media and civil society in the fight against child abuse.