Sunday, 27 September 2009

Would return to blogging......

This is to just say...I am off blogging for the next few months...as I am going to be very busy ....but I hope to return to writing as soon as I can and express my thoughts and feelings on topics of interest to me.....!!!
Thanks!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Changing Flavours of Maldivian Cuisine: A Blog and Book on Maldivian Recipes

Since cooking is my hobby, I thought it would be great to document all that I routinely cook at home and make it into a book of recipes. Therefore, myself and Soba(who also love cooking and have shared her recipes in this book) had gone ahead with the idea and put our heads together in putting these recipes together. Here is a link to our blog, where we hope to publish atleast 40 out of our 250 recipes presented in Dhumashi.

http://dhumashi.wordpress.com/

About our book;

'Dhumashi is a book of Maldivian recipes which we hope to publish soon.In this blog we will be publishing a number of selected recipes from our book, some of which represent some typical Maldivian food which we routinely cook at home. Some are easy to cook recipes which we have prepared keeping in mind the changing life style and emerging food habits of the young and busy Maldivians.

This book is authored by the two of us; Aishath Ali Naaz and Soba Ahmed and is a result of sharing a kitchen for seven months. We wish to bring the changing flavours of Maldivian cookery through our book which has over 250 recipes in it.

We have tested and tasted these recipes. We hope it will be accepted by young people especially by students who live abroad who has to cook up good meals, real fast which retain the flavours of home. We have also presented some of our favourite traditional dishes .
Our hope is you get to enjoy our Maldivian cuisine as much as we do!'

Happy cooking!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Ramalhan Mubarik!


Wishing all my readers Ramalhan Mubarik!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Say NO; Maldives Becoming an Indian Protectorate?



Words about Maldives becoming an Indian protectorate was uttered by some Indians in a restaurant in Rusholme, Manchester, UK just 2 days back. The Maldivian who heard the conversation could not believe it. Ofcourse something like that could not happen, will never be allowed to happen. This just cannot be true.

But the mvblogosphere was already posting blog articles about this issue with reference to an article published in the Indian Express. I refused to believe it, until I read enough to understand that this may be a possibility!

But, how could it happen?

Read the Gate Way to India; think about lakshwadeep; think about what goes through your mind as you listen to the dhivehi songs sung by Maliku people; think about November 3rd 1988; and the establishment of IGMH; the number of referals by IGMH for further treatment to India.......our health care system is dependent on Indian assistance; think of the number of people making India their home; read all that is written in this article http://www.mnasheed.com/2009/08/is-maldives-going-under-indian-protection/ ; think about how British East India company gradually took over Indian independence; think about the possibility of the 'Indian military arrangements as being dictated to us as a price we have to pay for getting Indian financial assistance to alleviate the economic and financial hardship faced by' the Maldives; think about our plight......dependent on India for health care?; dependent on India to alleviate our economic and financial hardship?; dependent on India for national security?; think of of your freedom now; think of what you may be about to become.

Why?
Somali pirates to be blamed?; links between Maldives and pockets of terrorism?; Maldivians involved in Mumbai blasts in some remote way?; islands or resorts under threat of terrorist attacks?; possibilities that some time in future there may be a misuse of our islands and oceans by terrorists?

Sorry, I refuse to buy the logic.

Please do not sign any agreement that will snatch away these feelings from our hearts. Please do not sell our nation; please do not take away our rights over our homeland from us. Please do not take away our right to exist as an independent nation. Please do not do anything that will compromise our sovereignity.

For if you do, our blood will rage, our souls would snap, our hearts will cry, our pride will crash and our nation would bleed in such pain.

I believe in our leaders to never do any thing that would hurt and harm our existance. I believe in people power that will rise like a tide to confront any threat that our nation may have to witness from any other power or nuclear power.

The sons , daughters , mothers , fathers, granmas and grandpas of Maldives who love their nation and its independence dearly will not sleep restful sleep until they get to know the facts about this gossip of handing over 25 islands, our seas and the sky to the Indian military for what ever purpose. Let us know what this is all about as soon as possible. Let us see the exact content of this agreement that is supposed to be signed by the defence minister of India when he visits Maldives later this week.

Maldives Towards a Future Without Drugs;My Thoughts for Discussion Board of Facebook

On Detoxification, Rehabilitation and Prevention of Drug abuse in Maldives

On Detoxification

1. Do we need new detox centers across the country ?
2.Can we have detox teams who can visit all atolls to conduct detoxification camps. Visiting teams to train primary health care physicians on detox methods and open the doors of health care centres and regional hospitals for detox purposes.
3. Detox team at a central location like villingili (detox centre?) can be the focal point to network with the detox work carried out thru out the country?
4. Detox teams to visit with senior NA and NARANON members to set up meetings and remain for longer duration till island communities becomes self sufficient. 5. Have a good referral system established to refer those who need further institutionalised care for further rehabilitation

On Treatment and Rehabalitation

1. Decentralise treatment( more than it is now). Difficult to run big centres and several disadvantages in having large centres such as DRC himmafushi, working on a single treatment method like TC.
2. Select more regions and have centres with few beds, encourage different models of treatment to take place, allow option for treatment methods within the country
3. Privatize rehabilitation, but have specific minimum standards to be practiced, with a focal point to monitor nation wide rehabilitation centres, may be NNCB
4. Allow ex addicts to play a major role in the treatment and rehabilitation process , allow professionals to be equally involved.
5. Begin treatment and rehab in the prison
6. Decentralise community based tr and reh.
7. Segregate those with criminial records and without, when offering treatment.
8. Important to clean up NNCB (keeping in view auditor generals report on NNCB)

Prevention and Awareness

1.INTRODUCE EVIDENCE BASED PARENTING PROGRAM NATIONWIDE.
2.Introduce school based awareness program that have been tested in neighbouring countries EX. The scout badge program followed in some of the Malaysian schools and life skills education 3. Expand mentoring among school children with behavioral problems
4. Increase the opportunities for employment and further education for those who complete education ( high school)
5. Increase spirituality and meaning in life.......religous/spiritual education
6. Increase community rehabilitation and develop the employment assistance program for recovering addicts.

I think the outcome of this major event would be to produce a plan of action that would steer the country towards a drug free country. So ( I am being deliberately critical here) , at the end some papers would be generated. So whats new? How many such papers, how many such conferences and workshops have been conducted in the country? What was the outcome? True, we have new and determined leadership, we have the National Drug Council....true..aye. BUT.

1) Would you all address in the paper (action plan) a mechanism to ensure that what is on paper would be definitely put in to action? Ensure that this is not just another bureaucratic stunt and that this paper would not end up collecting dust some where as has happened so many times in the past?

2) It is important thing to have a professional group to develop, monitor research and review the drug situation, quality and outcome of treatment, rehab and prevention programmes carried out across the country. They can be made responsible in facilitating a National Annual Conference related to substance abuse issues in the country. This can be the forum where the outcome of the programmes conducted in the country through out that year can be presented, yes with evidence and then review accordingly.

3) Understand why previous programmes failed or was forced to be stopped midway or whether they were discarded or shredded. This has to be understood to ensure that what you start today, will not meet the same end. To ensure that whatever programmes that are implemented ( either by the government or NGOS) will have a time line, a starting point, the process, an end point and opportunity for review and follow up. Unless this is done, some one will start a new program today, next day some one else will come, discredit it and put it in the bin (without ever knowing how useful or useless this was). We have to make sure this sort of thing does not disrupt the programs in the country. I think , this issue has to be addressed in a concrete way if whatever we may decide is to take real shape.

Any way, what happens , what is decided in this conference will surely play a major role in the policy decisions that are going to be implemented in the near future.The best of our brains , all stakeholders and our leaders are present in this gathering so good is bound to happen! I am sure.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Personal Musings; Revolution, Reform and Nation Building





It is difficult to pass through this period without recollecting the events which occurred on 12th/13th August 2004 in the Maldives.I believe that Evan’s death on 2003 , was the last straw that was needed for many people to actively decide on changing not only the destiny of a nation but end decades of silent suffering many people were enduring in the country.

I remember standing near the dead body of this boy, wondering why and how things had come to this, in a nation of such peace loving people. How could human cruelty stretch so far? The wounds on this boy’s body which have now become the symbols of prison torture for many of us were caused by men born to Maldivian parents. How did these people learn such cruelty....and how dare they inflict such suffering on a helpless person.
I watched frozen in a moment of silence as people moved silently past the body.

I stood close by, when the former president visited the cemetery.Amidst the chaos and confusion, I thought, “Here is a leader looking at the death of his legacy and lying on the parapet is not only the dead body of a young man but of a lad who was born during his rule and who grew up to represent the problems which malice the society he governed, to be killed by torture.. !”

I was amazed about our people who were so tolerant and so civilized....they just allowed him to come and witness first hand what his regime had done ..........'.Despite the pain we all felt, pain caused by the ruthless murder which happened under his leadership, no one harmed him, no one uttered a word.I was personally interested in watching his face when his glance fell on this murdered youth.

I wanted to know what he felt, perhaps some of his emotions would show…. or so I thought. It was then, that I realised how vain all this was. I thought I saw teary eyes, fear and pain similar to what we were feeling. This was a man who perhaps never wanted something like this to occur under his rule and in that cemetery on that day I saw an old man, coming to terms with the reality that things had gone so far... in fact too far.....

I felt so sorry, so sorry that this boy had to lose his life like this. Sorry that many often forget to think that all good things and even the bad ends. The world has seen the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms, and right before us we were witnessing a beginning of an end.
Little kids, women and men, old and young, went past the body in such eerie silence. No words could describe what was happening to our hearts and minds at that moment.A young addict came and wept near me saying....the person who was dead was his friend and he will fight to death........
Next the mobs happened like a logical progression of what was the next best thing.

Through the chaos of that day, new leaders were born. New hopes, new determinations were chalked out by ordinary people who decided to stand up for what was right. Some decided to support the waves of change in silence and some were confined to express their views due to reasons they just cannot ever share. The brave stood up and decided to do something about it, so that their sons and daughters will not have to lie so mercilessly killed right before their eyes.

At some point later, I felt that people were working hard to make amends to what went wrong. I believed that the hard work that began in wanting to change the system was really not stemming from a desire to remain in power. I believed there was remorse and determination to make significant changes to the lives of the common man. I believed that there was a genuine need and effort to remove the black stain caused by this event. But how difficult it was going to be to redefine the legacy of this leader! How challenging it would be to correct everything that had rotted within the system that had governed our nation for decades.

On the night the reform agenda was announced, I sat among the audience and felt that at last, this was proof that peoples’ voices for a need to change have been recognised. Whatever else people may say or think, here was a leader who had done a lot of good to our country but under his rule many changes occurred which made dignified people beg for basic health care, shelter, water and food. The moral and social fabric of the society was torn to bits, drug abuse had become rampant and crime rate was on the rise.
The rich just continued to become richer and the poor became poorer by the day, the gap between the two was too much to tolerate. Some of us were struggling for 2 decent meals a day, working day and night between jobs while others.....were bathing in mineral water, flying to neighbouring countries for personal pampering, shopping and relaxation sessions.

Often I felt I was living in a sort of kingdom, where some people were gifted with laurels and roles which was not based on the quality of the work they did nor the expertise they had in their profession but merely because they belonged or were affiliated to a certain blood line. There was a silent sort of discrimination which was demoralising decent people who wanted to serve their country in utter sincerity.

Then came 12/13th August 2004.
Things changed for Maldives that day and in the days and months which followed.

Finally, when the old guard gave to the new with the former president accepting defeat, I stood in a house in London with a community of Maldivians, who in their own ways had worked day and night to make their contributions towards the process of change that was sweeping through our beloved homeland. We watched the handshake and heard the leaders speak and honour each other. Once again, I saw a dozen or more intellects of our country slumber in a state of frozen silence. The tears this time was in celebrating and honouring those who decided to allow change to happen and in saluting those who decided to accept defeat in a honourable way.

This was the Maldivian way of bringing in a revolution.
It happened with the sacrifices and hard work of people who love our country, who dared to stand up and make the difference. But, our democracy is in its infancy still. The world economy and our economy are in recession. It is such a challenge to achieve the dreams, hopes and aspirations of the young and old, the weak and the strong who hummed the tones of the WATHAN edhey gothah to bring in this day.

It may be so easy to fall into the traps of power and forget why this revolution happened. In the face of frustration and fights between colours, we have to remember, the nation comes first and that include all its people. We have to ensure that we do not end up just building houses or flats alone, but homes for people who value people and relationships, who are proud of their culture and religion and whose daily life is governed by principles and morals that can build but not fragment our hearts and minds. Perhaps, the real revolution of building a just society, a safer and better society is all yet to happen.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Beyond Our Leaders and this Rivalry of Colours...



During the past year, images such as above have caught the attention and imagination of our nation.
Violence, justice, human rights, party politics.....accountability, corruption, commissions and parliament kasautis dominate the 'over the cup of tea/coffeee' discussions of Maldivians who are struggling to cope with the rivalry of colours brought about by this so called new dawn of democracy.

A divided parliament , a country increasingly divided by party politics, youth on drugs, violent gangs and knife crime, damning audit reports, organised crime and our leaders locked in a never ending struggle for power are just some of the new realities the country has got to wake up to.
Can the victory of either yellow or blue be more important than attending to the every day grievances of the average Maldivian? Or do we have to subject the nation and its people to such trials in order to achieve the true taste of democracy? What ever.................!
How many such trials ? At what cost? What more is to come? Would it divide our families, create more rifts in relationships , destroy our social harmony, create trauma and stress , cause chaos and distress instead of providing the ordinary person with the chance for peaceful and harmonious existance?

While we definitely need strength, patience and ability to discriminate what is right from wrong without the vested interests and influences of our leaders...as we pass through the current political climate, let us pray that our nation would not descend into a state of chaos.
From the distance, beyond the rivalry of yellow and blue , I can see the pride of red, green and white, silently pleading to all Maldivians to be united in honouring what it stands for, instead of any commitment they may have formed with these new found colours.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Dinner with John Tyrell; The Man Who Broke the Story of Maldivians Who Lived in St. Helena;1735

We were all eager to meet John Tyrell, the man who enlightened us about the fate of some 10 Maldivians who were picked up from the sea in 1735 by a passing ship and later lived in a place called Maldivia in St. Helena.

John wrote in his blog article on Thursday, 14 February 2008.

'It is in Maldivia, situated in the Upper Jamestown valley. The area is named after slaves from the Maldives who worked in the gardens, then a Government Plantation, after they arrived on the island in 1735'.

The article stimulated a lot of media interest back home. Many of us wanted to know more about the story.

I wrote to John. I was definitely very interested in finding out more about what happened to these people.

After my letter to John got published in his blog, a gentleman in foreign service in the Maldivian government phoned me and provided a headway to this developing story.

According to him , a British anthropologist had contacted him in 1985 and provided information about some Maldivians who had lived in St. Helena. Unfortunately according to him this information had been lost over the years and the story had so far never been followed. He had promised to document what ever he knew about the story. He also told me that these Maldivians were really not treated as slaves but they were 'dumped on the island' but as they lived side by side with other Asians who were regarded as slaves even the Maldivians probably got labelled as slaves. I thank this gentleman for making the effort to phone me and for explaining these details.
I wrote about this to John.

John was quick to find out the facts about which he wrote in his blog on 15 th July 2009.

'The bits on Maldivia I found there are as follows:[1735]March 17.—Capt. Polly of the Drake at the distance of 150 leagues from land took up a Boat with ten Blacks of the Maldive Islands who were drove out to Sea and near perishing—three died on board, 5 Men, 1 woman and 1 boy landed here.[Note.—The Maldivia Gardens, then a Government Plantation, derived their name from the employment of these men therein.]22nd March 1742 —Major Thomas Lambert arrived and proclaimed Governor.6th April—The property called " The Maldives" turned into a Hospital.

( http://johntyrrell.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html)

But before John wrote this piece on 15th July, 2009 we the Maldivian community in Manchester, UK decided that we must say a Thank you to this wonderful man who shed light about the lives of some of our own people who had drifted away from our country some 274 years ago. When I contacted the small Maldivian community in Manchester, everyone I spoke to wanted to meet John and felt a need to thank him.

Perhaps it was because John had already visited Maldives 3 times before his visit to St. Helena, that the word Maldivia caught his attention such that he wrote about Maldivia and how the place got the name in this blog article .

Over dinner on 14th July, 2009, I was eager to ask John whether there was any possibility of tracing back the descendents of these people.
He looked at me trying not to hurt my feelings, trying not to disappoint me but replied,
'the only way would be to do a DNA test of everyone who lives in St. Helena now'
He told me that there is no folk memories about these Maldivians.
I asked, ' what about from their food habits....may be some of the recipes....may be similar....'
I saw John looking at me. He told me it would be almost impossible to find out anything more about them. Searching for any Maldivians in St. Helena would be futile now.

It was difficult to accept this, but I understood. We all understood this from our conversation with John.

Ironically we were also 10 Maldivians (just like the 10 people who drifted away from the home country in 1735) who were currently living away from home...in Manchester UK. We all felt a need (cannot really describe why we felt the need but I guess its because we came to know about a bit of our own history through John) to say Thankyou to John and his lovely wife and we did so over dinner at Punjab Restaurant, Curry Mile, Rusholme.

I am sure I will still repeat the same questions next time I meet him. There may be many others in Maldives who may do the same....when John and his wife decide to visit Maldives again.

John, Thanks again.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Maldivian Drug Scenario; Arrest of Adam Naseer Aboobakuru


This is the man who was arrested in connection with drug dealing in Maldives on the night of July 2nd, 2009. He was apparently found along with possession of drugs and later over 5 million Rufiyaa and 43 thousand US dollars was found in his wifes room at H. Reendhooge.
He has in the past been implicated and arrested on drug related offences committed in 2001, 2004 and 2007 but was released due to lack of sufficient evidence to convict him. The police reports that they have been following this man for over 7 months and his arrest is a direct result of a successful police operation. Some have reported that he is one of the drug barons of Maldives, directly engaged with the sale of drugs concentrated in the Southern atolls of the country. We are yet to find our how his modus operandi has been.

Possession of the huge amount of money, does suggest that he may not be a peddler. However, we also know that due to the huge demand for drugs in the country,the sale of drugs such as heroin for just a few weeks can generate around this much of money or even more. While I congratulate our leaders and our police force for the high level of committment they are showing in dealing with the problem of substance abuse in the country, I still have numerous questions on my mind.

Is this man really a drug baron or is he a pawn in the hands of a bigger man connected with the drug industry of our country? How did this man get initiated into this work? Who helped him? Who was associated with him? How did he manage to escape being convicted despite being repeatedly implicated in drug related offenses? Did he have connection with drug lords and gang leaders in the country? Was his work facilitated by anyone else? Who are the people whom he have recruited as his foot soldiers to sell drugs on our streets? How many young people have he abused by selling them drugs? Can he be charged with abusing children if he has sold drugs to underage children? How much money does he have in his accounts? What is the value of the money of his acquired wealth through the sale of drugs to our sons and daughters? Will this wealth be confiscated by the state? Can he break the drug mafia by revealing who his agents are, from where he is importing drugs, his drug smuggling routes.

Definitely he alone could not have run such an operation. We have to see how the police operation continues and be on the watch out for more arrests and seizures as a result of the arrest of this man, probably a key figure in the illegal drug industry of Maldives.

We must at this moment hope that there would be further arrests of such people and ensure that those arrested will not be able to escape the criminal justice system. He may have connections outside which will work heavily to prove him innocent once again. However, it appears that there is enough evidence this time to convict him. Hopefully so!

Well done to the police officers who arrested this man.

Let us hope that all those people who are flourishing in crime against our innocent youth and children are bought under the long arm of law soon. Let us hope this is going to be a begining of an end to those who have been silently killing our sons and daughters for decades.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Thoughts on Detoxification, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts in Maldives


The problem of heroin addiction in Maldives is of undeniable concern for our entire community. We are fortunate that our leaders are thinking out of the matrix, on finding ways to deal with this issue and have probably initiated work that brings new hope for those struggling to cope with heroin addiction and the burdens associated with it.

I think, the idea of getting expertise from the international community, bringing them home to run a rehabilitation program in our country is definitely a better idea than sending big batches of addicts to rehab centres outside the country for long periods . In this way, we will have the opportunity to benefit from the time-tested methods of addiction management within our own socio-cultural milieau, and allow the opportunity for better community rehabilitation, especially facilitating the inclusion of family in the rehabilitation process.

Further, the idea of having a detoxification centre as announced by President Nasheed is again wonderful thinking. Definitely, detoxification is the first step involved in the treatment and rehabilitation for addiction and having the opportunity for detoxification in our country is an absolute must.
However, I was wondering whether we really need another 'centre' for detoxification?

In 2000-2001, a small unit for detoxification was built within DRC, Himmafushi. However, it is left for one to evaluate how well this unit was used to achieve its goal. If one reads the Auditor General's Report on NNCB, we do get to feel, that this centre and NNCB along with several components of its program are definitely worthy of further scrutiny.
Are we for example, using the available resources in terms of infrastructure to deliver proper services? Why don't we develop the centre which we already have to deliver additional services? If we do not have enough counsellors, psychologists, NA senior members, etc...can we not employ such technical people from the international community so that the recovering addicts can get proper and desired treatment (until we have trained enough people in the field) ?

I do believe, we need to detoxify each and every client who enter our treatment and rehabilitation program.... but my problem is this: do we need to invest in a new 'Detoxification Centre' in terms of infrastructure and do we have the manpower required for such a commitment?

Considering the limited resources we have and thinking of the existing facilities already available within the country, I was wondering why we may not go for options such as training groups of doctors or primary care physicians in the detoxification process instead and allow them to detoxify the clients in the general hospital setups in the country. Yet, I do understand, there may be some hazards associated with this, such as safety and security concerns of others admitted to the hospitals...but there are ways to overcome such hazards too.

Another option would be to send mobile teams of medical personnel along with deaddiction specialists to the island communities and to conduct detoxification camps. The team could conduct 1-2 week detoxification camps, start meetings and educate the community while based on these islands and then hand over the follow-up to those in the health centres. Those needing further care may be referred to other sources of help which may be available within each island, for example, there may be counsellors or people who could work as mentors, etc...

Many countries have special detoxification wards within the hospital set-ups. This is something that could perhaps be done in some of the regional hospitals in Maldives.

By allowing these people to be treated by the doctors in their island communities through detoxification in Regional hospitals and/or health centres, we will be providing the opportunity for rehabilitation within their own communities, while they are still with their parents , family members, religious scholars and peers. Thus, intergrating de-addiction management (at least the most basic and fundamental) within the existing health care system of the country.

Further, if the island communities can start small NA and NARANON meetings in the islands for those who undergo detoxification (with the help of NGO's who are already conducting such meetings in the country) this would be a golden opportunity for many to come out of this malice. NA members need encouragement and support from these island communities so that they can start and support these groups until they can run it by themselves.

Such a method of care may be especially useful for first timers . However, those who are unable to benefit from simple detoxification alone, or those with other comorbid problems or whose addiction severity demands further care and long term rehabilitation with the guidance of mental health and deaddiction experts, can be refered to the rehabilitation centres. Again, one could question whether those with history of offending and without such history need to be segregated....while they undergo such long term rehabilitation.

I have personally been involved with such detoxification camps in some of the South Asian countries and worked at some of the detoxification wards in general hospital setups and also in mental health set ups. I am aware that it is well received and has been found to be cost effective and reported to be useful.

These ofcourse are just some of my thoughts as I ponder on why we need to invest on another detoxification centre, while we have so many existing facilities that can be triggered with a single program to reach to every addict in the country, no matter which island they are living in. The emphasis of plucking these people away from the home island and bringing them to another Centre worries me.

What is required is additional training of primary health care professionals all over the country by a team of deaddiction professionals, dedicated only for this purpose who would take the responsibility of leading, monitoring, establishing minimum standards, facilitating and following up the program all over the country................!!!!....

Alternatively we may choose to just clap our hands as the ribbon for a new detoxification centre gets cut!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

We Neglect Our Most Vulnerable; Such a Shame!

Those with mental illness and other mental challenges require the care of those who are blessed with better abilities.

But look at us....we have systematically failed to address the needs of the mentally ill.

According to the report in haveeru (http://www.haveeru.com.mv/?page=details&id=84570) a person with mental illness or mentally challenged person was found chained in a house at B. atoll Kamadhoo by some visiting students attending a program organised by eco-care and Soneva fushi resort.

Could it be possible that the people of this island were unaware of this fact? Could it be possible that the people of this island just could not care more? What is difficult for me is to accept that the concerned authorities in the island had no knowledge of what was going on in this home. Why?

That he began to cry on seeing these visitors for me echoes as an out cry for help and clearly demonstrate he had an insight into his circumstance.

Probably, this is a person who could have had a better quality of life if he was given an early intervention....may be he has special needs or may be he has a mental illness. However, the information so far reported is insufficient to draw any conclusions about his diagnosis.

It is very unfortunate that his parents were ignorant about the available facilities in the country which could have helped him have a better quality of life. It is very unfortunate that the people in the island did not report his case so that the existing NGO's in the country could have extended their helping hands to him. It is a shame, people are still unaware that people like him can have a better life with appropriate rehabilitation or treatment and keeping one in chains to manage is just unacceptable!

It is a shame, that we as a people are failing to address the issues relevant to the most vulnerable people of our country.

We have to move ahead from the times where we kept the mentally ill chained in 'andhagondi', or in 'dhandi koshi' built in our homes.

We have to reject the philosophy of those who say that the only way these people could be managed is by putting them in chain; we have to raise our voices to protect the rights of the mentally ill and the mentally challenged.

We have to make sure that our country soon develop a comprehensive mental health policy and plan. We have to ensure that we have mechanisms to prevent the repetition of such incidents in our legislature.
photo source ; Haveeru.com

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Reporting of Child Abuse Issues; In Agreement with President Nasheed


I agree with what President Mohamed Nasheed said in today's rally against child abuse. His rationale for why there appears to be an increased incidence of abuse cases now appears to be relevant and true.

It is true child abuse has not suddenly escalated in the country, but decades of what has been pushed under the carpet has exploded ...only now. What we are seeing today is an aftermath...of many things gone wrong for a long long time.


May be for some reason people feel it is safe to report such incidents now, avenues for reporting have probably become more accessible now, may be the police is more vigilant and the authorities despite there being a risk for facing blame is willing to demonstrate greater transparency.


If one closely examine the reports of abuse which has hit our national headlines of recent and look at the time line, it becomes clear that most of the abuse that has been brought to the limelight began years ago.


We are fortunate that people can go out and rally about these issues today.
It is wonderful that our leaders kept aside their party interests and political differences for once, and spoke with national interest while pouring out their passion and commitment to bring out the changes which are so badly needed in our country.


I am sure those wonderful people, who for years have silently struggled to take care of victims of child abuse will now get due recogntion for their tireless work. I feel glad that today others have decided to take their burden to the national forefront and do something solid about addressing the issue of child abuse in the country.


For some reason I feel relieved today. I think I can see a rainbow in the sky.
The rally is hopefully going to be a beginning of real social reform and all those who joined their hands and hearts and brought their thoughts to their lips will carry forward good enough work in making our society a safer place.
Aameen.

Friday, 19 June 2009

A 5 Year Old Charged with Possession and Use of Narcotic Drugs !


This is really shocking news!
Reads Miadhu News 19th June 2009
"Maldives Police has arrested three people and a minor charged with possession and use of narcotic drugs. . The three people arrested are 5 year old Ibrahim Rafeeu of Manchangolhi Kuredhivaru, 28 year old Ali Mohamed Didi of Hudhuhudhaage / Gn Fuvahmulah and 25 year old Ismail Shifan of M. Opingsun...."

This boy is just 5 years old....and at this tender age he is being charged with possession and use of Narcotic drugs!!!
This is yet again another slap on the faces of all those who are trying to fight the increasing incidence of crime in our small society. Every day our media is reporting incidents of sexual abuse, paedophile....and all sorts of crime, especially crime against children.
Some how I see this child as a victim, a victim of drug abuse, a child abused at the hands of adults who introduced him to the world of crime and addiction by making him use and keep narcotic drugs with him.
When adults involve children / minors in the use and sale of drugs, we have to view it as child abuse. We cannot blame the child as much as we blame the adults who did this to the child. Where was his parents and/or gaurdians? This is a case which amounts to child abuse. I seriously believe that those who involve kids in crime have to be viewed as child abusers. Even the other children from that household is probably vulnerable and have to be offered all the necessary child protection services. The same risk factors which made this boy get abused is true for the siblings and need to be protected from being abused.
Unfortunately, for many of us child abuse only means sexual abuse or physical abuse, but we have to expand our understanding of that definition now. All those who abuse our kids either by introducing them to drugs and/or crime need to be charged for child abuse along with sentencing them for their other crimes. The two adults who were involved in this case need to be investigated on this ground as well.
Further, parents of such children have to be investigated. While it is indeed very sad to accept these terrible realities, I feel something has definitely gone very wrong with parenting these children , gone wrong within the family systems that it is apparent that the core of our society is rotting.
I hope this child gets justice.
I hope the arrest of this child will not give him a permanent admission to the school of crime and sentence him to a life of hopelessness.
I hope this arrest will not become another opening for his progress in the cycle of crime and violence.
This child need proper rehabilitation, ......let us ....stand up for this child and save his future and bring those who abused him , by introducing him to drugs and possession of drugs to face the court of justice.
This is why we cannot allow people who have been sentenced for drug offenses , to roam free on our streets. They are abusing our children.....and we must put a stop to this.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Criminal Profile of the Mother Who Abused and Murdered Her 8 Month Son with Lover


My questions and comments on observing this profile.
Was she put under any treatment or rehabilitation ?
Has she even been evaluated for underlying mental health problems? Does she have an underlying disability or is she suffering from a serious mental illness? If so, the whole profile need to be seen from a different perspective. Does she have a learning disability or does she suffer from a psychotic illness like schizophrenia? I seriously believe this has to be established in her case and those others who may be like her.
One news report said that she had a child before who is under state care. When there was such clear history why was this child put under an incompetent mother, who should have actually been in the prison.
When she has been sentenced for a particular period of imprisonment and it appears she ought to be serving that sentence, how come she is sentenced again for further crimes . Was she released from these sentences , if so why ????
So that she can go and offend again? Be caught again for more serious crime and given a harsher sentence? Whats the logic behind this?It is ridiculous to know she was living almost a free life even though she has been sentenced for a total of 30 years 8 months of imprisonment.
That too because so called competent people decided that she ought to be brought on parole so that she could breast feed the child( wonder about the rationale of breast feeding when mother is a chronic heroin addict!!!) . It is sad that competent people within the country could not be a part of this decision making process. Is there a possibility that the current political climate in the country has made some of the technical people or limited professionals redundant that they were not consulted ? If so this is very very sad!!
Furthermore, it appears that the voices and the decisions they had taken in the past did not apparently matter when she was granted parole or rather given a break from her prison sentence so she could give birth, breast feed have a lover and kill!!!!
All this reflects years of failure in providing justice to the people of this country.
Incompetent people with inadequate knowledge, in inappropriate positions of power, unable to network or unwilling to work as a team as key stakeholders... are just some of the problems that has failed the system which led to what we see in the criminal profile of this one woman alone.
Such a shame....! Let us hope things will change....in the times to come.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Several of my questions on 8 month baby murder case answered!!

I refer here to the article published on Minivan news today.

I am quoting some significant points which answers some of the questions I raised in my previous article.

Aminath Eenas told Minivan News today that one of the suspects, the baby’s mother, Nooruzaadha Ali, 28, from Addu atoll Hithadhoo;

'had been serving a sentence for drug abuse when she was given leave to give birth,.. she was a repeat offender, was eventually given parole.
The board decided she would continue her jail sentence a month after giving birth and the baby would be taken into care at the children’s home on Villingili'
But, said ' sentence was not enforced by DPRS'.

So she was a drug offender with a known history not under any rehabilitation or treatment programme, neglected or misjudged as safe to be out in the community by the parole board, although......!!!

Eenas added she was “socially, mentally and physically” unfit.
( But I have another question here..when she is mentally unfit...why was she not in Guraidhu receiving treatment? What was she doing in the prison...was she under psychiatric treatment? Did the parole board take the opinion of mental health professionals when they made decisions with regard to granting her parole? If not....fruit for thought again!! A call for improving national mental health services....even in prison caring for those with mental health problems in forensic units have to happen sooner than later..)

When such a clear understanding about her status was available then why an earth did the parole board grant this leave!! I personally know of women who had to give birth under the care of the state and who were even looked after by the state after the birth of the child... why was this woman treated otherwise , when there was a known risk!!!

DPRS Director General Mohamed Rasheed said Nooruzaadha was released for six months to breast feed and care for the baby.

NEGLECT BY WHOM??? WHO IS TO TAKE BLAME FOR THIS?

She like a 100 others are left to commit further crimes on innocent lives because the state could not afford to ensure that justice will prevail...due to...!

'At the end of the period, she was not returned to prison due to overcrowding'

VOICE OF JUSTIFICATION?


Why would any one take responsibility even there is gross neglect we know to point the finger at the others....

'Is it our fault the prison is overcrowded? Is it our fault there is no money to renovate? Or is it our fault that the crime rates are increasing?” he said.
Rasheed said many convicts were not imprisoned due to severe overcrowding in the country’s four jails.

BUT THOSE RESPONSIBLE MUST NOT ONLY TAKE THE BLAME BUT ALSO BE PUT TO TASK!

'Some blame the death of the baby on us,” he said.


We have to know that people who commit serious crime are sentenced to imprisonment because they are a threat to others and have committed offences and there is a chance they will re-offend if they are released like this. This is some thing even our kids ought to know.


“I would have prevented it if I knew what would happen in the future.”

RELEASE ALL THE CRIMINALS AND THINK NOTHING OF THIS SORT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE!!

Well, what we have in this report may have several information gaps and what we have heard so far is only one side of the coin.There are more questions which need to be answered. I sincerely hope they will be answered when the concerned authorities share the details of the case after thorough investigation. My call for those investigating the case is, do not limit your investigation to finding out how these people went about killing the child, but also investigate the state for neglect, for loop holes in the system due to which this killing was facilitated. Investigate the people in responsible positions who failed to protect this child.

Meanwhile, let us all unite in crying out for justice for this baby.

Let us hail the efforts well meaning people have initiated by submitting bills and petitions as a result of this babies death. And for goodness sake lets hope that political parties will not divide the people of this country anymore by using even this death as a tool to chuckle about.

Let us all begin to be more vigilant and active in getting justice for ourselves and those we love ...
I for one am calling upon the parole board to review their criteria for granting leave for women such as this mother. I am also calling all those released on parole and the man transfered from a 25 year prison sentence from Srilanka and now apparently brought to house arrest to be put back in prison.We cannot accept statement such as overcrowded prisons and allow criminals , people who have committed serious crime to roam free in the streets of our country. No, we cannot and must not allow this to happen!



We cannot turn blind for accidents that are waiting to happen...while we cry about this immense loss ..now we know for sure is related to much deeper issues.

Reference : Mohamed I,Ex-parole board member blames DPRS for death of baby; Minivan news;14 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009

Abuse And Murder Of a 8 Month Baby by a Heroin Addicted Couple in the Maldives

I want to step back, hold my emotions and wonder about this lady who with her lover or partner apparently throttled, sodomised and killed her own 8 month old son in Maldives, just yesterday.

The history so far reported , ring warning bells.
This mother was hooked to heroin, the little boys father is reportedly serving a sentence in prison for drug related offense and the lover has a past history for criminal offending.


Obviously, this woman must have given birth to the child with the knowledge of responsible people.
May be , just may be there would have been a sober adult in either side of the childs family who would have had some knowledge of the pathetic plight of these two people. Could they have prevented this tragedy?

May be the doctors who delivered this baby would have had some idea about the risks involved in allowing this woman to mother her child. Could they have prevented this tragedy?

Was there not a past history of drug dependence for this woman? Was she on any sort of rehabilitation programme?If Yes, why was she not monitored by anyone? Or were they already being monitored by the concerned authorities? Wonder why no one bothered to intervene before the baby died this terrible death. But then, who would have known? Who would have thought that humans could be so evil. We can suggest many things now, ofcourse in retrospect.

I can perfectly understand that we cannot afford to do risk assessment of every heroin addicted mother in the country. This would be an impossible task to take on. And I sincerely believe until this incident noone would have imagined the risks associated with substance dependence,violent offending and parenting.

However, I think this death is a wake up call for us.

It is time for us to add another problem to our list of social evils or woes. From gangs to paedophiles, it is time to begin worrying about handing over parental responsibilities to a large youth population addicted to heroin.

It is time to think about how many mothers or would be mothers are addicted to heroin, living in possibly abusive relationships and/or are victims who may not be able to defend themselves or those under their care.
Can they be identified? What can be done about them? Is the state ready to handle this problem. Let us sincerely hope we are not seing a tip of an iceberg here. Let us examine the cases of newborns , who have had problems due to maternal drug addiction..let us see the issues surrounding the babies who have so far been born to parents with serious drug problems.

It is time for proactive thinking so that we come out with new strategies so that mothers like this or lovers as sick as this will not be handed over the responsibility of caring for innocent lives.

While I have no sympathy for this woman, I wonder what was the mental status of this mother as this man , her alleged lover throttled and sodomised her 8 month old child.
Based on Western studies there is sufficient literature to suggest that substance abuse and violence is related, specially when there is a combination of mental illness and substance abuse , the risk for violence apparently increases.
But, we cannot apply such research findings in this case as this gruesome act was not carried out by a single person who may have had psychotic symptoms, but apparently with the participation of 2 other adults.


And any way who was the third person who was present when all this happened...who was he .. what was he doing and why is his identity being kept under secrecy while revealing all the details about the couple?
We must wait patiently now, like we have been for every case like this ..until the concerned authorities investigate and punish those involved in the crime.

But, what ever that will follow, this innocent childs right for a life have been snatched from him.
Now, as this baby lies in his grave, it is for the rest of us to decide whether we will forget his death and go about our life with the attitude, ' what can I do about it any way' or take this seriously enough to have a look around whats going on within our own families, amongst our own friends and neighbours , amongst those whom we care for and intervene and prevent the repetition of crimes like this.

Report if you feel something may be seriously wrong in a family and that children are being abused or neglected. Report if you see violence against children. Report neglect.

Report abuse. Talk to families who are hiding violence and abuse of children in the name of family honour. They is no family honour if a mother is hiding the fact that her son is abusing her own daughter. Inform such parents that by not reporting such things, the mother is encouraging her child to move to greater crimes and is encouraging and supporting crime.

Sentencing this woman and man would not be enough.

We have to identify, understand, analyse the underlying causes which led this to happen and then develop strategies that can be implemented so that our babies can have a right to life, even if they are born to irresponsible parents like these.

There is a lesson in this for all of us.

Let us become better parents. Let us become better family members, let us become better friends, let us become better neighbours, let us become better citizens. Let us see what each one of us could do at an individual level to make a difference.
Let us also not forget to question the state about what has happened in the case of this death and what they plan to do to ensure that some thing like this does not happen again.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Lack of halfway house main cause for the high relapse rate - HRCM???

Can one prove this statement to be true?
http://www.miadhu.com.mv/news.php?id=10329

May be lack of a half way house is one contributing factor, but it is premature to assume this to be the main cause for relapse!

Can the HRCM then state the type of rehabilitation program offered at DRC is useful and state that having the half way house will make all the difference?

I think before making statements like this, it is better to have appropriate research conducted by professionals in the field!!!.

NNCB already have many facilities, perhaps it is high time some one researched on what is going on at these places where so much of government finances are already being exhausted.

I am yet to come across 'lack of a half way house' as a cause of relapse....to state this is the main cause of the high relapse rate is just ridiculous.

I also wonder whether it is really upto HRCM to identify the causes of relapse of the drug dependent people of the Maldives ?

Should they also start providing inputs on the quality and type of treatment and rehabilitation programmes that are required?

Or should they be investigating the abuse of rights of the clients that may or may not be happening within the rehabilitation system of Maldives instead?

Wonder whether it would be of any use if someone examined whether such abuse of rights happen at admission and discharge of the clients from these programmes, when addicts who are users get criminalised ..etc..should not the commission be looking at things like this instead of examining the causes of relapse and making statements of this nature!!

But if not HRCM, who else would become the watchdog for those involved in the rehabilitation process? We do need reports like the auditor generals , to get insights into whats really going on within the walls of these institutes.

We also need professionals ( national or international) to come and evaluate these programs so that they can make recommendations to aspects like effectiveness of treatment, rehabilitation and prevention models that are followed in the country.

Policy makers need to look for research based evidence when they make decisions on how to proceed on delivering cost effective programmes to address the drug problem of the country. And if HRCM or any other body need to make a comment on such technical aspects perhaps it would be better to refer to such reports!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Auditor Generals Report on NNCB, Maldives

Thank you, Auditor General.

All I can say at the moment is a THANKYOU for having the courage to expose these truths.

Please read the report on Minivan news http://www.minivannews.com/news_detail.php?id=6637

Monday, 25 May 2009

Living Amidst The Rivalry of Colours


Yellow and blue often considered by some to be the colours of hope and serenity, have come to play a lasting role on the quality of life of Maldivians.

The rivalry between the colours is influencing the serenity so desired by a country which had witnessed profound political change over a short span of time. Yet, all this have created an abyss of confusion on the hopes for a peaceful existence.

A husband declares his faith to the colour blue. The spouse decides in her wisdom to remain silent and show her support to the colour yellow. The bond of trust which is the foundation of this relationship is stretched as one attempts to influence the opinions on the other, either overtly or covertly.

Another man fights at the dinner table convincing the rest of the family why blue may be a better colour than yellow. But not everyone agrees, arguements persist, voices are raised, some decide to leave in silence while others just keep their opinions to themselves instead of getting into conflict with the head of the family who may unintentionally crush their desire for free thinking.

It is unfortunate that the underlying beauty behind these lovely colours are getting lost in the face of chaos created by people who place personal agenda's over and above those of family harmony; maintaining the beauty of long standing friendships; values of being good neighbours;
and the simple joys related to peaceful every day human interactions.

A friend has chosen the colour blue over your preference of yellow. Then is this going to be the end of that friendship? Would one have to take guard over every sentence that is uttered of fear because what you say can stain your prefered colour? Or would it be possible to extricate the conflict of colours from your relationships by agreeing to disagree on the choice of colour you and your dear ones have made . But it demands maturity to not get sucked into the propaganda , chaos and conflict created deliberately by those who stand to benefit from it.

A rainbow united many hearts of a nation. While blue represented future serenity, for others yellow beckoned limitless hope.

But the colours can become subdued , change shades, or take unknown and confusing forms. It can sing songs which are melodious or ring bells of impending danger.

Yet, the human mind is able to make the choice to live in harmony amidst colourful flowers and protect oneself from its own thorns.
It is possible to make a deliberate decision to accept and respect the beauty of various hues around you. Thereby make a personal vow never to participate in violence or be a victim of destruction caused by strong weathers which may blow across this beautiful garden of ours as we enter this new phase of democracy.
These winds will pass; the weeds and trees together will survive and bask in the joys of serene bonds which has endured the tests of time.
Oneday....let us hope!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Crackdown on Drugs in Maldives;Time to Support Drug Addicts Choose Recovery

It has been recently reported that the ongoing crackdowns on illegal drugs have created a shortage of heroin in the country.
This has led addicts to resort to the use of "vaanuva' which is an adulterated brown sugar further adulterated with powdered human bones; powdered detergents; benzopdiazepines etc..
Over the past years when ever there was a shortage of brown sugar, the sellers adulterated whatever stock they had by mixing it with things like saw dust, spices and other material as mentioned above.

However, when the adulterated versions run out, the chiefly heroin abusing society may very likely resort to the use of other substitutes like alcohol, eude-cologne, cough syrups and sedatives which can be bought over the counter (RSA, 2003) .
Sometimes they have resorted to the use of other locally grown intoxicating things like oshani or even moved towards solvent abuse. However, when crackdowns are not continous, fresh shipments soon find a way back into the society.

Therefore, I think, the community need to be made aware that there may be an increased demand for these substitutes. It is necessary that we discourage the sale of these commodities to people who may come to buy it solely for the purposes of maintaining their addiction.

One must also be made aware that addicts who may be suffering symptoms of heroin withdrawal in their desperation may use violence to get access to these toxic mind altering materials.

I guess there is a need therefore, that concernced authorities and NGO'S working in the field provide sufficient awareness and tips to handle this situation to family members , shopkeepers and pharmacists , so that they would be able to handle this situation in a responsible fashion.

Further, I think parents and community members must be made to realise that these young people who are going through withdrawal symptoms probably need medical help and this may be a good time to offer them support by facilitating the opportunity for voluntary rehabilitation.

Perhaps, you can succeed in making them understand that drugs like 'vaanuva' may be fatal and are silent killers.
Offer your help to these people and instead of abandoning them, convince them once again that a better choice would be to hold your hand of support and move towards treatment and rehabilitation instead.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The faces of Maldivian paedophiles



These are the faces of the men who have apparently been abusing a young girl of 10 years for the past 5 years in the Maldives.
These men , raped, molested a girl of 5 years and continued to do so for 5 years.

Father, Abdulla Naeem AbduhRahmaan, 45 years ( Hdh. Naivadhu, kofeege) ; Uncle, Abdul Hakeem Mohamed, 52 years (Hdh. Naivadhu, Chambeyleege); Abdulla Ali , 73 years (Hdh. Naivadhu, thimarafusheege); Abdulla Shareef , 36 years (Tha. Thimarafushi, ahmedhee abad); Ahmed Mukhthar , 19 years (Hdh. Naivadhu, bahaaruge) and Ismail Mohamed , 52 years ( M. Baadhiya)

The old and the young, the father and the uncle .........what led these men to do this to a young and helpless child? What was this father thinking when he abused his own flesh and blood??
Did no one on the island know of what was happening to this young victim? Was she the only girl who fell victim to these vultures? Or are there more???

Did they think they could get away with such a crime??..Why were the islanders silent???

How many girls are being abused in the society like this??? Will we ever get to hear their voices?
How many mothers have advised their daughters to "remain silent because reporting it could damage the family reputation'?
That reporting sexual abuse 'could imprison the only breadwinner of the family leaving the rest of the family destitute'!!!
There fore....'turn a blind eye; close your eyes and withstand it until you can grow up and go away after you get married.......;' it has stopped now...so just don't make a big deal of it now....." are apparently some of the advice some parents have given their abused daughters
( source for the above quotes; personal letters sent to the author by victims of sexual abuse who read this blog)

What a shame!!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Sexual abuse, drugs , knife crime and murder !



Every day there is a news headline in the Maldivian newspapers which screams of atrocities related to sexual abuse , drugs, knife crime or murder.

I wonder what people feel when they read articles like the one which appeared on news yesterday (http://www.minivannews.com/news_detail.php?id=6520 ; http://www.jazeera.com.mv/posts/view/21249).
How is it possible that we have fallen this low? How is it possible that we have allowed our neighbours to commit such crimes on our own daughters and we dare to remain silent?
How could a father , uncle and other so called sane men, continuosly engage in such crime against an innocent child for so many years? A 10 year old being sexually abused for 5 years!!! A 3 year old being sexually abused by the expatriate workers...in their own homes? Why ? Where was the mother? Father???? Grandparents???? Were they all out to earn an income to bring up this child?????
I am concerned about the devastating effect this could have on the child and her parents. I hope they get the courage and support to withstand this difficult time.

In all this is a message for the rest of us too. For all of us who need to protect our sons and daughters from these vultures of our society.

It seems to me we no longer live in a safe society. Neither our homes, nor the beach front or the inside of a restaurant is safe for us. The society is in a chaotic state and to protect our children, we have to stand up for our selves and see what could be done to protect and safegaurd our children.

Inspect children at all times, please do not hand them over to the maid servant or relatives and go to the office and spend hours away without monitoring whats going on; specially if strangers or even relatives are visiting your homes.

Talk to the children and let them know you will always be there for them that you will not hold them responsible even if something untoward happen to them or even if somebody did something to them...let them know you as the parent will not hold them reponsible or call them bad.

If your child has been victimised, make sure you and they recieve adequate and good aftercare. Do not assume someone else will do everything for you. Question the authorities who are offering the support. Question the authority for the quality of care your child is receiving and do not hand over the aftercare to people who are not adequately trained in case they become further victimised.

Do not just report the incident to the authorities and remain silent. Follow up the case, become a voice against these atrocities such that no other parent will have to endure what you went through.

Demand justice for yourself, for your child and fight to ensure that appropriate legislations and policies are put in place.
Names, photographs and related details about paedophiles and others who engage in sexual abuse, rape and related sexual crimes should be entered into a sex offenders register(life time) and this should remain visible to the general public. The public should be aware if such a person has been released to the community and their movement has to be monitored by the concerned authorities.

Rehabilitation of these people should also be attempted while they serve their sentences.

Equally important is the need to educate and make the public aware about what could be done to prevent the victimisation of their children and also to prevent their child from entering this destructive cycle of violence.

Only proactive action can save our children from being victimised by sexual abuse, drugs , knife crime and murder.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Who are the drug kingpins of Maldives?

Since my exposure to the drug addiction scenario of the Maldives in 2000, I do not think a day have passed without me asking myself this question.
Who are these people who have ruined a generation of our people, by initially distributing drugs for free and systematically initiating young and vulnerable sons and daughters of our community to this social malice which now afflicts nearly every home of our society?

I have received names, without evidence to prove so from several sources . And I am sure most Maldivians whom we meet are able to count their fingers and name a few , but are we sure that they are the real people? Do we have enough evidence to prove that these people are really the drug kingpins?
So far, people have only gossiped and whispered the names in secrecy but no one has ever come out with proof to say so and so are really the drug kingpins. I have always assumed that if any one of us had sufficient evidence to prove this, noone will be able to contain the information and delay bringing these people to task.

People play politics and people play the blame game in politics. I am shocked with what our President have said...that he is aware of the 6 drug kingpins of our country....but what I cannot fathom is any justification on why the arrest of these people have to be delayed.

If the president knows who they are beyond doubt they must be brought to justice immediately. However, some may argue that this may not be a politically correct move as arresting them now may jeorpadise them from being convicted, specially if these people are politically affiliated and have links with the opposition, arresting them now can give the opportunity for them to link it to politics thereby confusing the public response to these arrests.

However, what I find difficult to comprehend is the logic behind uttering these words to the public when he was not planning to arrest them! By giving away this information he has given these individuals time and opportunity to prepare and defend themselves and also attack those who may destabilise their business using cunning and tested criminal strategies.

What we have to realise is that the drug industry is the most powerful industry in our country today, it has a great demand and the supply is constant and continous.
Heroin is not locally grown , but it is imported to our nation through connections via the drug mafia of the world, with deliberate interactions with the drug lords of the region.
It will neither be simple, nor easy to dismantle this industry, which in most probability is connected to other social evils such as the gangs of Maldives, the booming sex industry which is slowly emerging from underground to shock us again and again. All these evils could be interlinked, all these crimes may be well organised by affluent and powerful people who have benefitted from this monetarily for years and they may now be ready to challenge us in ways beyond the comprehension of ordinary minds.

The heirarchy of drug related crime is a complex one. What we see at the top, the drug kingpins, control the inflow of drugs to the nation through their network of drug traffickers. These people are often affluent people whom many may find difficult to even link to something as horrendous as the sale of drugs. But they are dangerous people who expand their business by contacting the drug lords of the country, frequently they are the small time businessmen who also carry a facade of decency which many will find difficult to challenge.

These drug lords then sell the drugs to the drug dealers(whole salers) who subsequently sell to the drug pushers( act as retailers and may be users) or drug peddlers( similar to drug pushers) who sell it to the drug users who are the victims in this heirarchy of drug crime, being at the lowest position in this network are the easiest to get arrested and imprisoned; the scapegoats of this industry.

Definitely, it is time we reversed the order of the drug related arrests. The number of drug kingpins may be few , perhaps just a handful as stated by our president, but the drug traffickers; drug lords; drug dealers; drug pushers and drug peddlers also need to be arrested if we are to "finish this problem".

The confession of our president that he knows the 6 drug kingpins of Maldives had the power to captivate media attention and anger the public triggering a war of words between parties, as this confession was made at a time when different parties are campaining heavily for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Unfortunately while this verbal onslaught is ongoing precious time is lost in nabbing the people who are responsible to systematically destroying a generation of Maldivians.

Can we really then afford to wait for a right time to arrest these people? Would there ever be a right time to arrest these figures? Would our politicians have the guts to rise above party politics and unite to 'finish the problem?'

Every mother , and father who have born the burden of their child being victimised at the hands of these people have a right to know who these people are. Every Maldivian wants to see these drug kingpins brought to task, immediately.

Let us hope we can trust our leaders to give us unfailing justice by arresting these 6 drug kingpins and thereby dismantling the booming drug industry which is destroying our beloved nation.

The time to arrest the drug kingpins is now. Not tomorrow or any other day when things are safe for any particular political party...!! Let us hope responsible action follows.
If our president had the audacity to utter that he knows who the 6 drugkingpins of our nation are we have to see whether he has the courage and determination to prevent another single Maldivian from falling into the claws of these people.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Confusion: Counsellors and Councilors

Until recently when the word counsellor was used, it was commonly understood that we were referring to anyone who worked in the field of mental health, some were drug counsellors, school counsellors etc…but nowadays the word counsellor (written exactly the same in dhivehi) is commonly refered to mean atoll or island councilors or people who will be involved in the administration of atoll provinces.

Well....counsellors, councilors the use of these terms must be confusing to many but I hope it just remain at that …as long as there is no confusion in the different roles they each have to perform I do not think there should be an issue with it.

However, it may be worthwhile to start thinking whether it may be more appropriate to substitute the word counsellor for words like case workers; case managers; support workers, etc specially if the job performed by counsellors(those involved in work related to mental health) does not involve active counselling but is only dealing with case management or support work.

I thought of writing this article of fear that tomorrow some one in the public ignorant of the difference between councilors and counsellors may approach those elected for administrating the provinces for drug counselling, marital counselling etc..hmmm

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The status of mentally ill patients in Maldives; Story of S

The status of mentally ill patients in the Maldives is pathetic. The way they are treated is miserable. Their rights are grossly neglected, their needs are little understood and the services to address the mental health needs of the nation is inadequate.

Let me share the story of S.
I went to a house in Male' , hoping to meet a friend. But , I was informed that the person I was looking for no longer lived in that house and was given directions to another address. Just when I was about to get back to the taxi, a middle aged lady came and touched my elbow saying ,
'Can you do something for me?'
I looked at her, I saw teary eyes which were almost pleading with me.
I went inside again. And she said,
'I know who you are, thats why I am requesting your help. Can you please meet my son? Just for this once?'
I asked her what was wrong with her son.
She said, ' I do not know. But I have not seen his face for the past 8 months.'
I said,' But how is that possible, if he is living in this house how is it possible that you have not seen his face?'
She began to cry as she explained to me ...
' He has his own room, with attached bathroom. About 8 months ago something happened to him , he came running , looking very scared one night, one of his fingers were bleeding too....he went and locked the room and said, he will never open the room and he has not allowed any one of us in after that. I will put his food near the door and when none of us are around he will quickly take the food in and after he finish eating, he will put the plate ouside. It will be nicely washed. If he needed anything he will make a shopping list and put it along with the plate'.

I found it hard to follow a story like this. It was difficult for me to comprehend that a person could live in such solitary confinement in his own house.
The mother requested me to try and see whether he would open the door for me, she said he knew me, he had mentioned my name before this happened to him. So she felt he may open the door for me. To give a try , all she wanted to know was how he looked like now, the status of his room.....
I asked her about his past. He had a criminal history, had been released from prison and had a history of substance abuse. No past history of mental illness.

This definitely was not a normal situation for me and I wanted an exit because I was personally not convinced that I could be of any help to them at all.
But I saw this mother, her pain and something in me ...just made me move, go up to that door and knock.

I called out his name, once , twice, several times. After about 15 minutes I saw somebody move two of the top louvres of his window. I said, I am so and so and that I wanted to meet him and I would be very fortunate if we could have a chat.
An hour or more passed. I stood there hoping he would open the door. I asked the family members to move away because I realised he was able to see us.

He opened the door slightly, and looked at my face. He recognised me immediately , but looked behind to see whether there was any one else with me. I told him I was alone.
Politely he asked me to come inside .
I went in.

It was a neat room. Not a speck of dust. The bed was made, the room was mopped, every thing was in perfect order. Near the bed there were sheets and sheets of paper. I saw that these pages were all used...to write a nonsensical script.
He was neatly dressed , but he definitely needed a hair cut.
He asked me to sit down. Gave me his chair and sat on the floor and said he was sorry but he only had about an hour left...even if it was for me he was not in a position to give more time.

My antennaes went up immediately.
What did he mean? I asked,
'So you have an appointment in an hours time?'
He nodded and said,
'Yes'.
He was in the middle of a UN meeting, the helicopter would come to pick him up soon'
I asked him 'where is the Helipad?"
He pointed at the ceiling and said,'Can't you see, its up there'
I nodded and said pointing at the sheets of paper.
'So you are a busy man, I can also see that you have been preparing some documents?"
' yeah , I am writing a document , on how to change things around here, but this person here keep troubling me, he is troubling me all the time ...see he is here now, he is telling me that you are an agent, sent by the gang who tried to kill me some time back , he says that you have come on their behalf so I should not have allowed you to come inside...he says he will whip me again tonight because I have disobeyed him'
In about 15 minutes time, he disengaged from me, he was talking to himself, banging his fist on the bed and was in an obvious arguement with the person he was hearing and seing through his auditory and visual hallucinations.

Suddenly he looked at me and said,
'When I was in the prison I had met you, thats why I opened the door for you, I told him that you will not harm but he is still not convinced'
I nodded and replied,
'Does this person talk to you constantly, can you see him too?'
' YES....YES..he says I must follow his instructions otherwise he will harm my family , may be even kill my mother, thats why I don't open the door for any one, specially my family members.........................'
I felt so sad .
Here was a person who was definitely mentally ill , probably suffering from an early onset of paranoid schizophrenia. He needed to be under the care of mental health professionals, he needed to be hospitalised immediately.....but who will take him ? Which law states that he be taken for mandatory treatment????
Do we have a system of care which can reach out to this individual with such florid psychotic symptoms? Do we have a mechanism within our health care , social care system which can come to assist in the treatment of this mentally ill adult? or ...who will help in alleviating the burden that is carried out by the family members of this distressed family?
I informed the family that he was seriously mentally ill, he needed to be hospitalised, I had to educate the family on the nature of the illness, give them enough to read on schizophrenia.
But the family was scared that if they approached the state for help a police entry to take him to the hospital or Guraidhu could result in possible violence and their son may land back in the prison...so they felt it was probably better for him to be left alone this way.
Mr. S refused to go for voluntary treatment and still live within the confines of his room.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The status of mentally ill patients in Maldives; Story of I

As I read a report on the local newspaper about a 19 year old mentally ill girl being raped by her caretaker, something inside me snapped.

I have worked with people with mental illness in the Maldives from 2000 onwards. During my clinical practice , I came across several such incidences, many of which went unreported because this is how the parents wanted it to be.
However, if the violence was ongoing or if the chance of it being repeated was present, I had to take measures to report these incidents.

On several occasions these women are repeatedly abused by their own families and/or by others in the community.
These girls are often understood to be just bad 'badi' girls as people have little understanding of the nature of their illnesses.
Sometimes they may be below average in intelligence , with mental retardation or may have a learning disability. Or they may be going through a psychotic experience, which propels them to behave differently.
I remember once being called by a parent to advise this particular girl , let me call her lady I.

She was reportedly wandering on the streets of Male' for several weeks, sleeping at public places and parents had to run around searching for her frequently. However, after a while parents stopped even doing this because according to them, ' she knows to get back home , so she is just fine , nothing is wrong with her, she knows exactly what she is doing ....she is just out to tarnish our name...whore!"
I was asked to advise her to 'behave'. I visited her house because after the description of her behaviour, I thought this girl was probably going through a psychotic relapse and it was likely she was suffering from Schizophrenia. I felt the need to educate her parents and challenge their mindset and also facilitate her treatment.

I had to go to her house several times to catch her on the times she apparently returns home. Finally when I did meet her, I was positive about her diagnosis, she had delusions of persecution, and also had several command hallucinations , where one voice in particular was commanding her to remove her dress and expose herself.

I asked the parents whether she had been seen by the psychiatrist and after searching the house someone came up with a prescription slip from a psychiatric consultation which dated back to 2 years. She was not on any medication, she was not receiving any help to alleviate the distress she was going through due to her illness.

But one of the relatives said, she was being treated by this 'fanditha veriya' and even showed me some 'thaweeds' tied to her waist and neck.

I asked her where she had been and she said outside with some boys. She told me that this man was telling her to go and meet boys....etc etc. Her body was smeared with sperm. Later I came to know she was gang raped just before she met me.

I had to tell the parents that she needed immediate medical attention, she needed to be admitted in the hospital, and needed the attention of mental health professionals.
It took me a while to educate the family , explaining to them that tying taweeds was not the solution, calling me to advise her was not the solution. Their beautiful daughter was very ill, psychotic and needed to have appropriate antipsychotic medication as soon as possible. Not only was it their duty to treat her but they also had to protect her from a society which was largely insensitive and ignorant to the needs and issues of people with mental illness.

After all this is that country in South Asia which has no mental health policy, no mental health programme or mental health legislation.

She is lucky that atleast there is one outpatient facility at IGMH which can offer her treatment (and the entire country!!!) if she gets lucky may be she would be transfered to Guraidhu until her symptoms could be controlled.

Friday, 13 March 2009

It is time to address gang violence in Maldives in a comprehensive way

Maldives research is one organisation which had proposed to do research on gang violence in maldives following the initial occuring of this behaviour in Maldives, but ....why is it not being done?
Read about the proposed research on Maldives research website;http://www.maldivesresearch.org/policy/research.html

"Gang violence is a new phenomenon for the Maldives. The proliferation of gangs and its overt emergence in Maldives is increasingly highlighted by media and police reports. Gang culture and gang violence has have already caused deaths on the streets of Male, something which was previously unimaginable in the country......"to read the rest follow the link.

Unless we understand the core of it, we will make blunders in how we manage the situation and i strongly recommend the concerned authorities to follow up research such as these .
The current situation of day light murders is totally unacceptable and we all have to unite to fight this without any delay. That also means we have to develop comprehensive interventions to deal with victims, their families, other gang members...their families .
We must arrest those who are causing this violence, those who are operating from behind and go beyond putting them in jail ..we must unite as a society to fight this situation before it is too late!!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Monday, 23 February 2009

A victim of sexual abuse shares the experience

I felt this comment deserved to be flagged as a separate article . Thank you for sending your story.

"these are not things that just happened recently...these things have been happening in, like, as long as 10 yrs ago, bt was never realized in the society. I knw this cux I hav had the unfortunate experience of this .

i am from a family hu is, lets say, from the middle class of the society. i know that my parents luv their kids alot. my father restricts us to go any where without a family member, let alone go to friends houses even - brothers cud go given that their friends are good kids - us girls cud only bring our friends to our place, v cannot go to theirs unless he gives his full approval, which is not a lot. we ver also nt allowed to interact with the opposite sex b4 v finish school. i now realize that they did that to only protect us from harm.but even then, i had a experience of that thing -molesting or sexual abuse or watver name u call it...only that i never knew that tym it was this.

No one knows about this, i never had the guts to tel ne1, i think thats why these boys also never came out with it, they mite not be having the 'guts' to tell. u c, i thought i did the right thing by nt teling then, i became adjusted to those memories for a while, but now, it has come to haunt me again. by not telling ne1, i had byn hiding a terrible secret , which i had always blamed on me.. i always think that it if werent for me, this wud never have happened.

Today I am seeing a psychologist because of the ‘after effects of this’. She is the first ever person I related it to. .. and this is the second *:D*.I guess I had always hidden from reality… but reading your post and the above comments, I wanted to share my story becuase i just want u guys to know that this 'plague' is not just for poor families, even the most richest and the protected ones cud face this too.

But now wat wud happen to them, I was fornunate to know wat I was going through, but wud it happen to them too??? My prayers are with those boys, even though they will have to live their whole lives by it, I hope that they learn to deal with it and that their parents are with them the whole way…."

I also would like to welcome others who may wish to publish their experiences in this blog to mail them to me. I beleive these case vignettes will provide deep insights and expose the evil that may be going on behind the closed doors in our society.
Make this blog yours to create awareness about such social problems by sharing these experiences. Thanks