GAPS AND CHALLENGES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES IN THE MALDIVES: THE NEED FOR MINIMUM STANDARDS
Abstract - It is estimated that 1 in 3 of women worldwide experience Domestic Violence(DV) during their lifetime . According to the Maldives Demographic and Health Survey 2016-17, 16.3 percent women experience physical and or sexual intimate partners violence in their lifetime. As of 2021, there are 577 cases of domestic violence reported to the Family Protection Authority. Victims of domestic violence must be provided with access to support mechanism to “manage their relations, keep themselves safe, exercise their rights to their property, children, access to justice and to rebuild their lives” . Given this, providing the required services for assisting victims of domestic violence is of utmost importance. The first step for realizing this would be to undertake a mapping stakeholder mapping to identify gaps and challenges in service delivery. Therefore, a series of stakeholder discussions were held with all government stakeholders, intergovernmental organization and NGOs in the Maldives from 13 November – 23 November 2022, to identify the gaps in service delivery. These discussions concentrated on gaps and challenged faced in service delivery to victims of DV in particular : (1) minimum standards to be used in the provision of social services, (2) help line, (3) information, advice and counselling, (5)psychosocial support, (6) victim support including crisis intervention, (7)supporting victims in court proceedings, and (8) other referral services available for ensuring safety and protection through strengthening partnerships with relevant institutions. The outcomes of stakeholder discussions reveal existing challenges and gaps in service delivery relating to technical capacity, limited staff, coordination, limited understanding of guidelines developed by institutions and issues of case management, effective and efficient monitoring of services, issues related to coordination, management and overall governance. It also raises the need to develop a shared understanding of minimum standards and the need for collaborative efforts to develop both preventing, protective and long-term guidelines to address gender-based violence in the Maldives. It also calls for a victim- cantered, community cantered and rights-based approaches to deliver timely, effective and efficient services to victims including vulnerable groups, such as children exposed to domestic violence, Persons with Disability and migrant workers. These findings shed light into similar issues in combatting domestic violence in other Small Island Developing States and other Muslim nations.
Keywords - Domestic Violence, Minimums Standards, Psycho-social support, Victim Support, Human Rights Based Approach