Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children
9 October 2018, New York
Thank you, Mr Chair,
My Delegation wishes to thank Secretary General and the Special Representatives for their Reports.
The Maldives has made remarkable progress in the area of promoting and protecting the rights of children. The Maldives ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and enacted the first special law on the Protection of the Rights of the Child in the same year. The national architecture developed since the ratification of the human rights instrument, also established the first National Council for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and the first Child Rights Unit within the mandate of a cabinet minister.
The country has greatly benefited from holistic approaches and careful planning over the years. We have achieved universal school enrolment at primary school, and near universal in secondary school. We have increased literacy rate from 70 percent in 1977 to over 98 in 2015. Currently, girls outperform boys in secondary school and higher education. The country will soon have more women than men with tertiary qualifications.
The Maldives has also enacted policies to enhance educational opportunities for children with special needs. Specialized Education Needs (SEN) Units are established within the mainstream schools across country, to ensure equal opportunities for schooling for children with disabilities.. Furthermore, persons with disabilities, including children, receive both financial and non-financial assistance in the form of assistive devices, and additional points in all social housing schemes.
The Maldives has also made commendable progress in ensuring the right to health for children. We have reduced infant mortality from 121 per 1000 live births in 1977 to just 6 in 2016. Vaccine preventable diseases such as neonatal tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and diphtheria are non-existent. Violence against children, however, remains a subject of concern. Addressing this issue has therefore, been an important objective of the recent child rights policies and action plans in the country.
The Maldives has taken a number of steps to strengthen the structure and the process for child protection. The Government has Family and Children’s Service Centres in each of the 19 atolls, to ensure so that interventions by our Social Workers are timely and systematic. These centres also have child-friendly interview rooms, which provides an enabling environment to interview child victims of violence, abuse and neglect, which in turn helps minimize the trauma experienced by children during the investigation process. Women and child victims of domestic violence, abuse and neglect are provided temporary shelter in safe homes established at the Family and Children’s Service centers. We also publish a registry of convicted child sex offenders online.
Determined to raise global citizens with good values, who can help forge more tolerant and peaceful societies, we work continuously to foster a culture of respect and tolerance among our schools with the aim of preventing bullying. We have specific programmes to empower the Girl Child, focused on encouraging and motivating girls to achieve their goals and aspirations and to reach decision-making levels in various fields. We have also established multi-sectoral Community Social Groups in 6 atolls to ensure early identification, reporting and referrals in instances of violence against vulnerable groups, including children. The Maldives is also a key partner in the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) and works at the regional level to end violence, abuse and exploitation of children.
A further collaborative effort is the recent establishment of a dedicated 24-hour toll-free Call Centre for the Child Helpline 1412, and the launching of “Ahan” mobile application. Both the help line and the mobile application enables any individual, including children, to report cases anonymously. Both these endeavours pave the way to further streamline reporting process through innovative technologies, and ensure that we provide different avenues for the public to report instances of violence.
The Maldives has also taken a number of important steps in recent years to achieve greater level of coordination among the different agencies of the Government to enhance child protection. One important outcome of that is the establishment of the Maldives Child Protection Database, to strengthen referral mechanisms between the Ministry of Gender and Family and the Maldives Police Service, for easy exchange of information, and more importantly, to generate real time disaggregated and evidence based data. Further, the Ministry of Education governs a Policy Information System, through which school attendance is monitored very closely, and whereby a matter that may be of concern is identified, it is immediately brought to the attention of relevant stakeholders.
In 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Gender and Family has also focused on enhancing child participation in national planning initiatives. The Maldives believes that in formulating policies that affect children in general, we need to value their opinions, experiences and perspectives. In this regard, children from various backgrounds, schools, living under State care, and children with disabilities, participated in these forums and shared their views on violence against children, and more generally on the protection and promotion of the rights of children in the country.
In conclusion Mr. Chair, the Maldives will remain firmly committed to promote the rights of children to ensure that no child is left behind.
I thank you Mr. Chair.