ARC calls for stringent child protection measures in travel and tourism, in wake of recent cases of rape of minors

ARC strongly condemns the recent cases of rape of 11 and 16 year olds, with both cases reportedly happening at guesthouses in Male’ City. ARC expresses deep concern with the lack of supervision of guesthouses registered with the Ministry of Tourism and remains deeply concerned about reports of numerous unregistered room rentals that continue to operate without proper scrutiny from the authorities.

ARC calls for the establishment of more stringent measures to prevent sexual abuse, rape and exploitation of children in guesthouses across the country. As reports of children being transported for exploitation increase, ARC also calls upon authorities to bring amendments to laws and regulations on transportation, to address the issue of trafficking of minors.

Relevant authorities must ensure proper investigation of both cases and press charges according to Articles 122, 123, 124, 125 and 126 of the Child Rights Protection Act 2019, which articulates penalties for offences committed against children, including exploitation, grooming, negligence and failure to protect a child from harm.

ARC remains deeply concerned about increasing cases of violence against children which continue due to systematic flaws in the child protection system in the country, exacerbated by deficiencies in law enforcement, judicial and social sectors tasked with the promotion and protection of the rights of children in the Maldives.

ARC also appeals to parents and the community to take a more vigilant stand to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation, and to report such cases, or any suspicious activity, to the Child Helpline 1412 or Police Helpline 3000600.

ARC reiterates its commitment to continue its efforts to work with all relevant stakeholders to safeguard the rights of children across the Maldives.