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Maldives: Bridge gender gaps to accelerate progress, say UN experts

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MALE/GENEVA (22 September 2022) –UN experts applauded the Maldives’ strong commitment to gender equality in law and policy, which they would like to see translated into practice.The Maldives is at a tipping point as a fragile democracy, in the face of rising religious fundamentalism that is holding back women and girls and impeding the achievement of gender equality.

“If the Maldives is to develop and prosper as a nation, it must harness the potential of women and girls rather than restrict them by societal perceptions and rules that relegate them to subordinate roles,” the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls said in a statement at the end of a 12-day visit to the country.

“The Maldives has a rich cultural history where matriarchy once flourished, and women widely held positions of power. However, the propagation of religious conservatism imposes the subordination of women and questions their competence to participate in public life.”

The experts welcomed new laws and recent institutional measures focusing on gender equality but said long-standing provisions are still discriminatory and punitive, denying women and girls full human rights and freedoms. Gender-based violence is widely prevalent and tolerated, they said. Survivors face many barriers in access to justice and remedies, and perpetrators enjoy impunity.

While the experts praised the Maldives for its outstanding leadership in the global arena to address the deadly threats posed by climate change, they called for the integration of a gender perspective in the national response.The experts said that development projects for infrastructure and tourism have been crucial for the advancement and security of all Maldivians. However, when these are designed and implemented, women and girls are often left behind.

“Women and girls have a right to be free and to be heard and, above all, they are entitled to be equal partners in development and to contribute to the Maldives’ future through active participation in all spheres of life.”

The experts expressed concern that fundamentalist ideologies in the Maldives encourage reprisals against those standing up for equality, freedom and human rights

“Women human rights defenders are being targeted and face misogynistic and sexist attacks,” the experts said. The Working Group’s recommendations included calling for speedy implementation and resourcing of laws, policies and institutions, combined with a counter narrative that empowers women and girls as equal citizens and bearers of human rights.

“The Government must do more to address the root causes and drivers of sex and gender-based discrimination, which include belief systems that deem women as inferior and practices that deny their autonomy and agency,” the experts said.

The Working Group met national and local authorities, women and girls, civil society organizations, journalists, elected women leaders, UN entities and other international stakeholders, and visited schools, health and care facilities, prison, in Male, Kulhudhuffushi, Maafushi, Maduvaree, and Guraidhoo.The Working Group will present its final report to the Human Rights Council in June 2023.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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