The 16 Days of Activism was initiated 20 years ago, in 1991 to highlight the connection between women, violence, and human rights. The 16 day period encompasses four significant global advocacy dates, namely; the International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women (25 November); World AIDS Day (1 December); the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (6 December: when 14 female students were gunned down for being feminists); and Human Rights Day (10 December).
Although women in Maldives enjoy a relatively higher status in society when compared to other countries in South Asia, several deep rooted socio-cultural practices reinforce patriarchal norms and hinder the participation of women in development alongside men. There is pressure on men to ensure that families are provided for but then supportive systems exist which makes it much easier for them as systems and structures promote dependency of women on men. This year, while we mark the 16 days of Activism for the 20th year, national statistics show that 1 in 3 Maldivian women between the ages of 15 to 49 experience physical and/or sexual abuse at some point in her life
On 11th October 2010, the first Domestic Violence Bill (DV) of the Maldives was submitted to the Peoples’ Majlis. The bill was entitled Geveshi Aniyaa Huttuvumuge Bill. The bill has several aims, including :
• to make DV a criminal act by law
• to prevent DV from occurring in our society,
• to provide justice to survivors of DV and abuse
• to ensure state responsibility in providing support services for survivors of DV crimes, through all relevant state institutions
On 22nd November 2010, the DV bill was accepted on the Majlis floor and sent to a committee of 11 members for further discussion. To date the bill is not passed by the Majlis.
The Thinakun Ekeh Campaign to end DV in the Maldives was launched on 25 November 2010, as a key activity in the Maldives to take part in the 16 Days of Activism global initiative of 2010. On 25 November 2011, the Thinakun Ekeh Campaign will renew its efforts advocate for the passage of the DV Bill and support the global campaign to end violence against women, in the Maldives and around the world.