Assault Crime Tourism

Maldives police apologise for manhandling tourist in bikini

Police in the Maldives has issued an apology to a bikini-wearing tourist who was arrested and allegedly manhandled by police for being “inappropriately clad.”

Police on the island of Maafushu received a complaint on February 6th about 6 pm local time of a woman allegedly inebriated and not wearing appropriate clothing, walking on the island’s main road.

Maafushi is a popular tourist destination but visitors are not allowed to wear bikinis, outside of holiday resorts.

A video is now also circulating on social media showing officers trying to cover the female tourist in a towel. At least three officers are shown restraining the woman and she can be heard saying “you are sexually assaulting me”.

According to a police statement, the woman was taken to the nearby Maafushi Police Station before being released an hour later “without any charges”.

While tourists are warned to be sensitive to culture and swimwear restrictions, local officials and tourists feel the matter was poorly handled.

The following morning the Maldives Police Service issued a statement apologising for the incident and saying that an investigation had been opened by professional standards into the conduct of the officers.

“Tourists on local islands are requested to respect the community’s cultural sensitivities and local regulations by restricting the wearing of swimwear to certain areas of the island where local communities live,” said the Maldives Police press release.

“Maldives Police Services sincerely apologises to the tourist and the public for the regretful manner in which this incident took place. A full inquiry has been initiated to ensure that disproportionate measures are not implemented in such situations and assures the public and the family that action will be taken against any violations following the findings of the inquiry.”

Maldives Police Commissioner, Mohamed Hameed also issued his own response to the incident via Twitter, saying “I apologise to the tourist & the public for this,” as he assured tourists and locals that the matter is “being investigated.”
The popular desert island holiday destination is also home to a conservative Islamic culture, which has previously led to problems.

The previous week three tourists, including an Australian, were stabbed by “suspected extremists” on the island of Hulhumale.

Maldives Police said at the time that all three tourists were in a stable condition and that they were investigating links to an online video that claimed the incident as a possible incident of IS-inspired terror.

In the apology issued on Friday morning, the Maldives Police claimed such dress regulations were in place for visitors’ own safety:

“The safety and security of our country including both residents and visitors alike are of paramount importance to us. Which is why we would like to remind the many visitors who come to our country to be mindful of local sensitivities when visiting inhabited islands.”

Full details are available at the link below:

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