Male’, Maldives – Public has created a social media havoc after Home Minister, Sheikh Imran Abdulla said that the ‘Safari Rape Case’ where a Kenyan woman was sexually assaulted is not a big issue.
While speaking about the ‘Safari Rape Case’ at a program by “Dhivehiraajeyhe Adu” radio station, Minister Imran stated that the incident that occurred in the safari was not a big issue and that it only became big due to how the incident was reported. Imran further stated that such an incident can happen in a public place as well.
“About that, I will speak very truth fully. There are instances in dealing with them and releasing them, that are not within procedure. But when looked at the reality of the matter, in addition to the procedural issues, the public’s perception of the reality of the matter – I am telling the truth, when I heard the story, when it started spreading, even I imagined it as this huge rape case. But when I went and looked into the matter further, it is not easy for me to say exactly what happened in a place like this. But I can confidently say it is something which can happen in a public place, among people. And it is something that when it happens, people wouldn’t even know it happened.” The Minister said during the program.
Due to this, many criticized the Minister on social media for calling sexual assaults a minor issue. Some describe the the Home Minister making such inconsiderate comments shows that women will not be able to get justice in Maldives for the sexual assaults they face and that they will be hesitant in reporting such incidents if this continues to happen in the country.
Following the comments, the team of lawyers of the victim have sent a letter addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, requesting to look into the matter of Minister Imran speaking inconsiderately about the sexual assaulting of a woman.
The letter sent to majilis states that the statement given by the victim for further investigation proves that the women was groped and was given death theats. However, since the Minister, which is the head of the investigative authority, said “it is something that can happen to someone amongst people or in public” shows that Minister Imran had not considered the statement of the victim before talking.
The letter further states that while the investigation is not complete, Minister Imran implying a big issue as a minor one and concealing the truth while protecting the assaulters makes the the ability of Imran and the authentication of his work questionable.
The ‘Safari Rape Case’ occurred in late June of 2020, where a Kenyan woman was sexually assaulted on board a safari which was docked in the lagoon of Hulhumale’. Although Maldives Police Service had arrested two 39 year old males from the crime scene, they were both released citing that there was no probable cause to keep the pair in custody. Police also refrained from revealing the names of those who were arrested saying that it cannot be revealed during the course of the investigation, despite having done so in similar cases previously.
Following this incident, public outrage sparked which later followed by news that one of the perpetrators was the husband of an MP, as well as a relative of the President, calling them “royal people.” With this, protestors took to the streets of Male’ calling for justice to be served and against impunity. Furthermore, the Maldives Police Service had to face major public criticism after the lawyers of the victim who got sexually assaulted on a Safari docked in Hulhumale’ lagoon, shared a video of investigation officers mocking and talking about tempering the victim statement. However, they denied of any such wrong doing.
This is not the first time the public has outraged due to injustice regarding sexual assaulting in Maldives. In 2013, a 45-year-old named Ibrahim Rasheed who was charged for conducting sexual activities with a 17-year-old girl was slapped with a 10-year prison sentence. However, the sentence on Ibrahim was reduced after the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) came into power in November, 2018, where Imran became the Home Minister and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih became the President of Maldives. While Ibrahim was supposed to be released on 2023, President Solih reduced his 10-year sentence and released him on December 2018.