Maldives Commissioner addresses Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
In a meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women last month, Commissioner Ms. Moomina Waheed from the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives highlighted research which suggests that support for gender equality in the Maldives has declined over the last 15 years.
During the speech, covering persistent rights and gender-based issues facing women in the Maldives, Ms. Moomina noted that domestic violence is not considered a criminal offence under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act. Victim-survivors are hesitant to come forward for a number of reasons. These include complicated mechanisms for complaint lodging, a lack of understanding of domestic violence among law enforcement officers and minimal representation of women among investigating officers and magistrates.
While acknowledging the State’s efforts in the implementation of CEDAW, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives believes that there still remains much to be done to fully eliminate any and all forms of discrimination against women.
Ms. Moomina highlighted issues such as:
- inadequately equipped domestic violence shelters, and zero access to social support on islands outside of the nation’s capital
- emerging religious extremist narratives being used to weaken gender equality
- prevailing practices of female genital mutilation (despite a large decrease in the practice of FGM in the Maldives in the last 50 years)
- barriers to bodily autonomy with the requirement for spousal consent to surgical sterilisation
- negative stereotyping in the media and in education institutions
- under-representation of women in politics
The Human Rights Commission called on the State to strengthen its commitment to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women by improving access to healthcare, education, justice and work and criminalising acts of violence and discrimination.