Report: 2,000 sex crimes in 6 years; urgent systemic changes required

Children fly kites in the Usfasgandu area of Male' City on April 23, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Over 2,000 cases of sexual violence were reported to authorities over the last six years, according to a report released by a parliamentary committee on Monday, which highlights the need for urgent systemic changes.

In 2021, the then-Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar submitted a resolution to the Parliament, expressing concern over a rise in cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

The resolution submitted by Adam Shareef, who now serves as the local government minister, was reviewed the Parliament’s Human Rights and Gender Committee.

The committee’s chair, Hinnavaru MP Jeehan Mahmood, presented the committee’s inquiry report at the Parliament floor on Monday morning.

According to the information collected by the committee, total 2,169 cases of sexual violence were reported to police over the last six years.

This includes:

  • 2018: 362 cases
  • 2019: 410 cases
  • 2020: 487 cases
  • 2021: 342 cases
  • 2022: 334 cases
  • 2023: 234 cases

The committee found that between 2018 and October 2023, the Prosecutor General’s Office filed charges in just 47 of the cases, only 10 of which produced convictions. Acquittals in eight more cases are being appealed.

Additional findings:

  • Many of the cases of sexual violence reported involved elements of blackmail
  • Many islands lack the facilities to conduct tests to collect crucial evidence
  • Shortage of mental health facilities are leading to delays in conducting psychological assessments of victims needed for prosecution
  • The state failed to provide rape evidence kits to many of the health facilities in islands

Committee recommendation:

  • Establish an effective mechanism for inter-agency collaboration to provide support to victims of sexual abuse
  • Expedite investigations into sex crimes and establish a mechanism where psychological services are available to victims
  • Make rape kits mandatory, and draft necessary guidelines for the use of rape kits
  • Draft the guidelines required under the first amendment to the Sex Crimes Act, and provide rape kits to all state health facilities by the end of 2024

The numbers show a drop in year-over-year cases of sexual violence. However, the committee expressed concern that cases drag on for years, in court and other processes.