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Thinakun Ekeh Campaign on Domestic Violence Launched

November 25th, 2010 · No Comments · Human Rights

A group of NGOs and activists in the Maldives launched a campaign ‘Thinakun Ekeh’ on November 25 to raise public awareness on domestic violence and to advocate for the Domestic Violence Bill which is at committee stage in the People’s Majlis. The campaign was launched today to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The internationally marked 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence also began today and will culminate this year on December 10, the International Human Rights Day.

The name ‘Thinakun Ekeh’ means ‘One in Three’ in the local language and is a reference to the findings of a 2007 study in the Maldives which showed 1 in 3 women between the ages of 15-45 experience either physical or sexual violence at some point in their life, including childhood sexual abuse.

The Domestic Violence Bill ‘Geveshi Aniyaa Huttuvumuge Bill’ has received cross-party support and if passed it could be a watershed in reducing domestic violence which has undesirable impacts on children, family units, socioeconomic development, public health, law and order and peace in the society.

A campaign song Geveshi Hiyaa was also launched today as part of the campaign.

Definitions, Impacts and Consequences of Domestic Violence and Gender Based Violence

Press Release on the launch of ‘Thinakun Ekeh’

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No to Violence

November 24th, 2010 · No Comments · Tolerance

Yesterday it was a Bangladeshi migrant worker killed on a public street, his insides ripped open. Today it could be another young Maldivian kid. Tomorrow it could be another. Do we care? Or do each one of us pretend it’s not me, not my family? How long could this go on? Shouldn’t we as a nation do some soul searching, push the pause button on the political feuds and sort out this mess? Say No to Violence.

Zombie

“Another head hangs lowly,
Child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it’s not me, it’s not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying…

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What’s in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou…

Another mother’s breakin’,
Heart is taking over.
When the vi’lence causes silence,
We must be mistaken.

It’s the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen.
In your head, in your head they’re still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are dying…

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What’s in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a… ”

Written by Dolores O’Riordan, 1993

The Irish band The Cranberries’ song Zombie from their 1994 album ‘No Need to Argue’ is a protest song about the violence in Northern Ireland and in particular the killing of two boys three-year-old Jonathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry in an IRA bombing in England in 1993.

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A Public Lecture on Media

September 22nd, 2010 · No Comments · Media

American Corner Male’ of National Library is organising a public lecture on media. The lecture, named ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Journalists in the Maldives and other Democracies’ aims to discuss development of the Maldivian free press, including challenges and opportunities for journalists in the current media landscape. The lecture will also compare and contrast Maldivian media issues with journalism trends in other nations, particularly young democracies. The lecture will be delivered by Tiare Ruth, an American journalist and journalism trainer, who has written and worked for many top U.S. news organisations including The New York Times Co., CNN, CBS MarketWatch and ABC News.

Date: Thursday, 23 September 2010
Time: 4.30 pm
Venue: American Corner, National Library, Male’ (New Museum Building at Medhuziyaariay Magu)
RSVP: Ahmed Rasheed – Mobile phone: (+960)7937107

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A Democracy Evening: American Civil Rights Movement

September 4th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Civil Rights and Liberties, Events

Transparency Maldives, Madulu and Strength of Society (SOS) present ‘A Democracy Evening’, a series of thematic events based on documentary films, movies and discussions. We will focus on a wide range of themes like independence, civil rights, tolerance and organized crime among others. The idea is to kick start a dialogue on some of the important issues facing our country and humanity. We are hoping to host the event every other Sunday. The screening of the movie will be followed by a facilitated discussion on the respective theme. The second event in the series will be held on the 05th of September, Sunday. The theme for this event is, the civil rights movement in America. Please visit the Facebook page for the second event for further details: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155498477800155

Venue: Youth Center Seminar Room (MCSE), Male’
Time: 9.00 pm
Date: 5 September 2010

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Alarming Reports on Human Trafficking in Maldives

August 17th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Labour Rights

Minivan News has published a heart-breaking report on human trafficking in the Maldives, especially exploitation of Bangladeshi migrant workers.  The report, based on an interview with former Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives Professor Selina Muhsin, says profit earned from human trafficking in the Maldives rivals fishing as the second largest industry in the Maldives.

Former Bangladeshi High Commissioner to the Maldives, Professor Selina Muhsin, who finished her assignment in July, told Minivan News that every day 40 Bangladeshi nationals were turning up at reception, “having come to the Maldives and found they have nothing to do. So naturally they come here to the High Commission.”

Most of the stranded workers were recruited in rural areas of Bangladesh by local brokers, who would work alongside a Maldivian counterpart.

“The Bangladeshi counterpart charges the worker a minimum of US$2000, but it goes up to $US4000. This money is collected by the counterpart and divided: typically three quarters to Maldivian broker and one quarter to the Bangladeshi counterpart,” Professor Muhsin explained, prior to her departure.

“Many workers sell their land, their property, even their homesteads – putting their wives in a relative’s house – and come here for employment they have been told will fetch them between $US300-400 a month. But when they arrive, they find they have no employment.”

Stranded in a foreign country and unable to speak English or Dhivehi, the workers either melt into the Bangladeshi community and become illegal workers, working for low wages in substandard conditions, or present themselves at the High Commission and beg for help.

In some cases workers are collected from the airport by the brokers and have their passports confiscated before being dumped on the streets of Male’, Professor Muhsin explains. Typically the worker arrives with a local mobile phone number – inevitably disconnected – and does not know the name of the broker.

“They eventually end up at my office,” she says, pointing to the Commission’s reception area. “Often they are in a state of shock at arriving to discover they have no employment. I try to put them in a guest house for 7-10 days and see if they can be repatriated, but many can’t and because they owe sums of money they take any job they can – sometimes US$70-80 a month.”

Taking into account the Bangladeshi broker’s cut, and based purely on the numbers of stranded expatriates presenting themselves at the high commission, indicates an employment trafficking scam worth upwards of $43.8 million year.

Expatriate worker from Chittagong district of Bangladesh works on a balcony of a building in Malé, Maldives.

niOS

Expatriate worker from Chittagong district of Bangladesh working in building construction in Malé, Maldives

For years, migrant workers in the Maldives have been facing the problems of unfair dismissal, inadequate wages and long working hours. The arrival of a new democratic government in the Maldives in November 2008 has not brought any marked improvements to the conditions of migrant workers in the Maldives. The 2010 Human Trafficking Report by the US State Department condemns the Maldives for its poor record regarding human trafficking and has placed the Maldives on the State Department’s watch-list for human trafficking, blaming the government for “failure to investigate or prosecute trafficking-related offenses or take concrete actions to protect trafficking victims and prevent trafficking in the Maldives.”

Expatriate worker from Bangladesh working in Malé, Maldives.

niOS

Bangladeshi expatriate worker in Male’. The working and living condition of expatriate workers has not improved with the arrival of a democratic government

Human trafficking is booming in the Maldives as local employment agents earn lucrative profits through the import of workers from Bangladesh in trafficking scams carefully planned with counterparts in Bangladesh. It is believed that corruption among government officials is a major leverage for human trafficking in the country.

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