Children’s rights NGO ARC condemns recent developments in State Children’s Shelters

Fiyavathi, children's home in Hulhumalé | Photo: Twitter

Malé, Maldives – Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) has condemned the recent developments regarding State Children’s shelters and media coverage of children blaming.

A statement released by ARC brings to attention recent events at Shelter Kudakudhinge Hiya in Vilingili and Home for Persons with Special Needs (HPSN) in Guraidhoo, including the failure to adequately manage the shelter and address the needs of children.

The children’s rights NGO states that it is an explicit duty of the State to protect the rights of children in its care and ensure their safety and well-being; and condemned recent developments in the strongest terms.

ARC noted that media coverage of cases involve victim blaming of the children and fail to mention the root causes and systematic failure to protect the rights of the children, leading to deterioration of the situation.

As for the government, ARC expressed concerns of reports that no efforts were being made to engage children who are not attending school, limiting them of the full right to education; and children not being consulted on major decisions regarding their lives, depriving them of the full right to have their views heard on matters that affect them.

Children taken into state care are often from situations of abuse, violence and neglect, temporarily placed in Family and Children Service Centers (FCSCs) in islands without access to education. These temporary placement takes months limiting access to education and basic rights.

While the recent transfer of children from Kudakudhinge Hiya and Fiyavathi to Aman Hiyas or Safe Homes in Family and Children’s Service Centres (FCSCs) in different Atolls is a welcome change, ARC stated that a lot of these transfers have taken place without adequate preparations of both the children and care workers, as well as the communities, and with no plans for the continuation of specialist services that some of these children require.

ARC called on the State to ensure that the rights of children currently housed at HPSN in K. Guraidhoo are protected and provided with access to adequate health services and support.

The NGO noted that while they were active in conducting several educational and recreational programmes for children and capacity building trainings for staff since 2010, they had been unable to access the Shelters since the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown measures in March 2020.