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Police probes online harassment of barista

Only one case of sexual harassment has been prosecuted so far.



Online harassment targeted at a young woman for wearing a suit is under investigation, police said on Sunday.

“We are aware of the online harassment aimed at a woman for the way she dressed and the restaurant being vandalised with a brick. Police are investigating these cases,” spokeswoman Izmia Zahir said at a press briefing.

A brick was thrown at the window of Meraki Coffee Roasters on Saturday night after former employee Inas Ismail faced harassment for wearing a suit to the Maldives Film Awards last week.

All victims of threats and intimidation are subject to a risk assessment and police will provide protection when required, the chief inspector of police assured. 

Eight cases of sexual harassment against women were reported as of November this year, she said. Only 36 cases of sexual harassment were reported in the past five years, she revealed, including 18 cases reported in 2018. 

A sexual harassment case was sent for prosecution for the first time in the Maldives earlier this year, she noted. A 56-year-old man was arrested and put on trial for following a young woman on a motorbike while making sexual remarks about her body.

“We believe a first step was made this year in improving our investigations into cases like these. But we have to do a lot more to properly start walking,” Izmia said, acknowledging the low rate of cases of violence against women sent for prosecution.

Four cases of rape were reported by women as of November this year and 16 cases of rape were reported in the past five years. But police only sought charges in four cases.

Rape cases are underreported by both genders, Izmia said. “We have to do a lot of work to increase the rate that cases of violence against women are successfully investigated and sent for Prosecutor General for prosecution. I want to note that the police leadership is working on this,” she said.

“If you are facing violence because you are a woman, be brave and stand up. Do not tolerate it and stay quiet. Ask for help. There are many government institutions and women’s NGOs to help you,” she urged.

“Let us women support and help each other. Let us all stand with the women who stand up against violence instead of putting them down.”

Photo of police press briefing by