The total population of the Maldives is approximately 310,000 (2010) with an annual population growth rate of 1.4. While the Maldives, is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area, the capital Male’, squeezes 35 per cent of the total population into two square kilometres, making the Maldives a country with one of the highest population densities in the world.
The island nation has a relatively high human development ranking, at 95 in the UN’s human development index, 2009. Despite this, there remain a number of challenges – economic, environmental, health and social. Issues linked to overcrowding in Male’, particularly family violence continue to be a major concern.
Within the Maldives there exist a number of laws to protect children from various forms of interpersonal violence. The Maldives ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and enacted the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child the same year. However, the level of violence against children continues to pose an alarming threat to the safety, health, dignity and survival of many children. In April 2012, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill was passed. The new law outlines measures to prevent domestic violence and to rehabilitate perpetrators, and establishes a Family Protection Authority.
The Irish Red Cross became active in the Maldives in 2006 after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004. Find out more about the Irish Red Cross tsunami programmes in Maldives .
Child Protection and Violence Prevention
A study conducted by the Maldives Ministry of Gender and Family and a more recent National study on violence against children conducted by UNICEF (2008) shows alarming statistics on the various forms of violence, especially against children and women. Research suggests that 20 per cent of girls and 11 per cent of boys under the age of 18 have been sexually abused, while 47 per cent of children experience physical or emotional abuse in their homes, schools or communities.
Since the latter end of 2011, the Irish Red Cross in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and Maldivian Red Crescent has been implementing a Violence Prevention programme “Promoting cultures of non violence through violence prevention in Maldives”.
This three year programme aims to support the Maldivian Red Crescent to build protective systems within its organisational structure to prevent violence and to work with adults in local communities to build capacity to prevent violence against children and youth. Through the Red Cross resource tool “Ten Steps to Creating Safe Environments”, the programme aims at reducing sexual and physical abuse and family violence by increasing the knowledge and skills of over 30,000 Maldivian adults and children so that they can work to prevent violence and abuse in their community thereby promoting healthier relationships and safer communities.
A three day workshop was conducted in December 2011 aiming at familiarizing staff and volunteers of Maldivian Red Crescent with the general concept of violence prevention on how to use the ten steps resource.