A 59-year-old man has been arrested on the island of Kurendhoo in Lhaviyani atoll on a charge of assaulting his wife with a stone.
The suspect struck the victim on the head and knocked her unconscious on Monday morning, the police spokesperson said. The incident was reported to police around 5:00pm, after which the man was taken into police custody.
The 40-year-old woman is undergoing treatment at the island’s health center. No further details were provided as the matter was under investigation.
According to local media, the alleged abuser is the highest-ranking civil servant at the Kurendhoo island council office.
Mohamed Shakeeb, a gender ministry official, said they were coordinating with the police to “provide all necessary support to the victim from day one.”
“We will continue to do so even during the criminal investigation, which now will be launched by the police against the alleged abuser,” he said.
Shakeeb declined to reveal further details regarding the ministry’s role in the case.
In May last year, a man found guilty of assaulting his wife was fined US$13, sparking outrage from the public and women’s rights advocates.
In late January, the death of a marital rape victim from the island of Thinadhoo shocked the nation and prompted debate about the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The human rights watchdog, women’s rights groups, and opposition parties meanwhile called on the authorities to ensure justice for the victim.
Ziyadha Naeem, 37, died of life-threatening injuries from marital rape. A postmortem examination conducted in India found signs of abuse.
Ibrahim Shah, her 40-year-old husband was arrested in mid-December and his pre-trial detention was extended for the twelfth time this Sunday. However, authorities are yet to press charges.
Some 338 cases of domestic violence were reported to the police last year – a significant increase from the 186 cases reported the previous year. Sexual offences also increased from 476 cases in 2014 to 531 cases in 2015.
A 2007 study by the gender ministry – the first comprehensive nationwide survey of domestic violence in the Maldives – had found that one in three Maldivian women between the ages of 15-49 had been a victim of sexual or physical abuse.