In July 2021, MFR covered the story of Ali Waheed, "The man who knew (too much)", former Minister of Tourism in Solih's government, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault by several staff of Ministry of Tourism. The staff even met with President Solih in person to lodge their complaints against their minister.
Though countries have definitely been moving towards creating an environment where all employees feel safe, valued and respected, there are definitely still ways to go when it comes to making employees feel safe in their own workplace. Though we keep expecting bigger countries to make these rules and decisions, how can we expect it from other countries, when a small island nation such as the Maldives fails to protect its employees as well?
Despite the relatively few number of reported cases of workplace sexual harassment in the Maldives, there have been instances where employees have bravely come forward with their experiences, only to encounter discouraging outcomes.
And now, the number of people who speak up about workplace sexual harassment might get even less, as the Prosecutor General’s Office has decided not to go forth with one of the biggest cases of workplace sexual harassment.
In 2021, Ali Waheed was accused of multiple cases of sexual assault. The cases started piling against Ali Waheed after an employee from the tourism ministry decided to file charges against him, which led to seven more women speaking out against his behaviour towards them.
While the news broke out around the mid of the year, the charges filed against him included:
- Attempted rape
- Sexual assault
- Sexual harassment
- Indecent exposure of private parts
As these charges were filed against a former minister by multiple women, many expected these charges to carry some weight and some serious action to be taken against Ali Waheed. But in good old Maldivian fashion, just like any other politician that is charged with a crime, Ali Waheed also fled the country citing ‘illnesses’.
After fleeing to the UK, Ali Waheed failed to appear in court, which finally led to his arrest briefly in the UK.
While this matter should have been resolved a long time back, in a statement released by the Prosecutor General's Office has stated that they have decided not to further proceed with the case after victims and witnesses have written stating that they did not want to proceed with the case and wanted to withdraw their statements.
Following this decision by the Prosecutor General’s office, the police have tried refiling the case to see whether the case can be carried out without the key witnesses. However, due to the nature of this case, the case cannot further proceed and was dismissed on the 6th of this month.
The Solih administration takes 'chests out' pride in 'Zero Tolerance' of corruption and abuse of power, while several high profile politicians with serious allegations are able to get away easily under this administration.