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Maldives - Violence Against Women!

Geveshi Hiya by HulheviMEDIA. Campaign '1 in 3' Violence Against Women 2010

While Maldives marks her first awareness project of Violence Against Women through the “1 in 3” campaign of 16 days of Activism Against Violence. She face huge challenges as cautioned by a founder member of one of the NGO's in Maldives.

Now there is hope that we can reach for help. We know there are people we can reach for help. The wait has been too long for some, yet it brings the light of hope for the future.

Real work on violence against women started in the 2000 as late as 2005 with the devastation of Tsumani in 2004. Tsumani lead some Maldivian families at the brim of life and death. Physical dispersment and loosing everything lead to many social problems and during this time NGO and international organisations such as UNFPA, UNICEF, assists to rebuilt Maldivian communities. It is still an ongoing effort.

In 2007 a study showed horrifying state of violence in Maldives that was alarming. The people did not want the governments to be involved in family affairs. Its mainly because the man in the family as a provider use physical power to abuse and repress the women in the family. Sadly, some mothers outlet their suppressed emotions, anger and sadness by beating up their children. This is how some mothers were brought up. They don't know any better and they beat their own kids as a way discipline. Some woman are determined not to beat their own children as they were beaten up.

My aunt, tells the story of how awfully she got beaten. She express that she hates to take a shower after being beaten up because when the water touches her bruised skin it was so awfully painful. When I watch and listen to her, it feels as if she was telling me of something that only happened yesterday. She then would laugh at me and say that my mum was the quiet one and because of that she does not get beaten as much, as if to console me. My aunt escapes the beatings by climbing on to the trees in the front yard and stays there until the danger passes. I am proud of my mum and aunt. They brought us up with love and care handling all their emotional and psychological issues with difficulty. They are strong women.

Even with passing of the Domestic Violence bill and the 1 in 3 campaign Violence Against Women as much as there is hope there are enormous challenges.

One key challenge would women not seeing domestic violence as an act of abuse. I do understand this because I personally went through a phase not believing of abuse and seeing it as my own problem. I was in total denial. In 2007 I sought help because I was not able to concentrate at work and I was anxious and getting panic attacks. I told my stories that I thought was my problems. My psychologist said “That is very abusive of him” I was very agitated. I did not want to believe I was abused. I did not want abused. I did a lot of reading to understand and ultimately I had no choice other than accept that I was abused. Even now I can sign with relief.

Another, challenged would be peoples attitude; for example, a Maldivian man updates his facebook status with "Violence Against Wemen" Kuriyah miyoh 15 dhuhu ves Anhenun GayakahNeyreyneyo!! sakaraathennu... LOL”. loosely translated "For the next 15 days I cannot rape a woman so they say!! no good ...LOL" – making fun and laughing about these issues trying to make them not important. The sadness is women taking part in these jokes and hiding their offense in fear of being rejected or alienated. A friend comments 'It is Maldivian humour! - This is outrageous and not acceptable.

Not having a safe place to meet and feel safe and support them to start a new life. The small tight knit communities is another issue and we do not have the expertise to deal with these issues. It is hard to move out and leave the abusive environment.

Forming a support group could create a forum to share the pain and sufferings can assist to some extent with their emotions. We have to educate the community to stop and prevent abuse. It is a challenge. There is so much work to be done. One step at a time. I am not alone :-)

Excellent work done by the people involved.

With appreciation and gratitude,

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