Advocating the Rights of the Child (ARC) condemns in the strongest terms the recent case of purported child marriage, resulting in a pregnancy of a 13-year-old. ARC is also deeply concerned that the child remains in the same environment where she has been subjected to various forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, including denial of access to health and education. The information strongly suggests that the State has systematically failed to provide a safe environment to the child.
Sexual abuse and exploitation of children are extremely serious crimes in the Maldives and special provisions have also been enacted to ensure protection of children. Maldives has also recently adopted legislation prohibiting marriage of children under 18.
ARC therefore calls upon authorities to ensure proper inquiries, investigations, and ensure protection and justice for the child, as well as to enforce these laws and special provisions, consistent with the national laws and Maldives’ commitments under various human rights instruments. ARC also calls upon all concerned authorities to ensure the provision of medical professional help and counselling services to assist the girl to cope with the situation.
Society as a whole has an obligation to protect children from neglect, abuse and exploitation, and ARC urges members of the public to report such cases, or any suspicious activity, to 1412 or Police Helpline 3000600. Information shared with ARC by the public, regarding the case of the 13-year-old, has been forwarded to the relevant State authorities for necessary action.
ARC reiterates its commitment to continue its efforts to work with all relevant actors with a view to safeguard the rights of all Maldivian children.