AP commends ‘successful’ measures by Shidhatha to protect women and children

Shidhatha Shareef. (File Photo/Adhaalath Party)

Adhaalath Party, on Sunday, said that Shidhatha Shareef, who was recently forced into resigning as Gender Minister, had worked hard and implemented successful measures towards the protection of women, children and special needs persons in Maldives.

Shidhatha, who serves as Chair of AP’s Foreign Relations Committee, had resigned as Gender Ministry on Thursday, February 6, at the heels of a no-confidence vote taken within the parliamentary group of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

AP, in a statement on Sunday, described her resignation as an act of great courage.

“The hard work she did and the measures she implemented to promote public discourse regarding issues pertaining to women, children and special needs persons, and to create public awareness in order to remedy such issues have been very successful,” said AP. “This party is fully appreciative of the integrity and efficiency with which she conducted this work.”

It said that Shidhatha had been someone who had sacrificed a great deal for public good in the course of work with the party since 2010.

“Shidhatha Shareef, prior to, and during her tenure as minister, had actively engaged in keeping a close over the situation facing the general public, and lending her assistance in a number of ways. These are things which all members of the party and members of the general public are exceedingly grateful for,” said AP.

The party also welcomed Shidhatha’s decision to continue with her work with the party despite her resignation from the government.

“May the Almighty Allah bless Shidhatha Shareef and reward her with more success and blessings with her life,” said AP, concluding its statement.

Shidhatha, in a statement regarding her resignation on Thursday, said that while she did not believe she should be held liable for neglect over the abuse cases which had recently come to light, she felt that it was in the best interest to step down from office in order to prevent the cases from having a negative impact on the public trust towards the Gender Ministry.

The MDP parliamentary group’s unanimous withdrawal of support for Shidhatha had come followed the revelation that Gender Ministry not only had prior knowledge of the allegation of sexual offenses against the former honorary disability ambassador Ahmed Hishan, but had remained passive, allowing him to be designated the honorary disability ambassador and receive multiple national awards.

The information of Gender Ministry’s prior knowledge of the allegations against Hishan had come to light during a High Court hearing on Tuesday, February 4, held in response to an appeal filed by Hishan following a 2018 Family Court ruling which denied him legal guardianship over a young mentally handicapped man, who is believed to be one of his victims.

The issue was submitted to the Parliament by South Galolhu MP Mickail Ahmed Naseem in an emergency motion urging action against the Gender Ministry on Wednesday, January 5. Parliamentarians who took part in the debate accused Shidhatha of incompetence, and demanded her resignation. They threatened to initiate a no-confidence motion if she refused.

The latest scandal to hit Gender Ministry comes mere weeks after it, along with Maldives Police Service, was accused of negligence in preventing the rape of a 20-month girl in G. A. Kanduhulhudhoo.

One of the men arrested in the case, the victim’s great-grandfather, had been on trial for the sexual harassment of another local girl for two years. According to the police, he had not been kept detained but allowed to be released back into the community “out of consideration of his old age”.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who in his annual address to the Parliament on Monday, acknowledged that State institutions had been negligent in preventing the rape, has nominated the Maldivian Ambassador for India, Aishath Mohamed Didi to replace Shidhatha as the next Gender Minister.