Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, on Tuesday, presented a resolution which calls for a parliamentary inquiry to identify the systemic barriers to achieving gender equality.
Eva, who serves as the parliamentary representative for North Galolhu constituency, presented her resolution at the parliamentary sitting on Tuesday morning.
Eva noted in her resolution that Maldives had yet to achieve gender equality despite the numerous efforts to empower women and eliminate discrimination against women, and calls for a parliamentary inquiry to identify ways to ascertain gender equality through the country’s laws and regulations.
“I hereby present this resolution proposing the relevant parliamentary committee to conduct an inquiry to identify the barriers and challenges regarding this presented by the laws, regulations, policies, and the system in effect in this country, and to present its recommendations on the areas of reform needed for a permanent solution to this” she said.
Speaking at the preliminary debate on the resolution, Eva said that Maldives has declared the equality of men and women in its Constitution, and has joined international conventions and has passed laws which promote gender equality.
“But if we look at any area and any institution with the power to make decisions and in a position of any real authority in Maldives, we realize we are not even close to achieving gender equality,” said Eva.
Eva said that women subjected to gender-based violence and harassment continued to be denied their right to justice.
She asked how many women were brave enough to report such crimes against them, and how many had received justice.
Eva said that Maldives continued to have a culture of sexual harassment on the streets. She said that forms of sexual harassment were so common, that even girls as young as 10 years were subjected to it.
She said that she had yet to meet any women subjected to sexual harassment on the streets who received justice.
Eva said that according to the Prosecutor General’s Office, since the Anti-Domestic Violence Act was enacted in 2012, only 18 domestic violence cases had been filed with the courts, out of which charges were proven in only four cases.
“And the Anti-Sexual Abuse Act; only a single case has been filed with the court in the six years since this Act was passed. And while 236 cases were filed under Sexual Offenses Act, convictions were produced in only 96 cases. And the number of cases filed with the court in the four years since the enactment of Gender Equality Act is zero,” she said.
Eva said that it was clear the reason for the failure of filing charges with the courts, and the failure of producing convictions did not lay with lack of crimes against women.
She said that women did not want to report the crimes against them because of lack of faith in receiving justice.
She also said that such crimes were often dismissed by law enforcement agencies as insignificant, and the perpetrators let off with a mere warning.
“People who have beaten women to the point of unconsciousness have been let off with a MVR 200 fine. How many ordered to pay child support actually pay it, and what is done when they refuse to pay?” asked Eva.
Eva said that women continued to be denied their rights and equal representation despite the many laws specifically designed to empower them, and that a parliamentary inquiry must be conducted to address the systemic barriers preventing Maldives from achieving gender equality.