The Maldives police have launched a probe of sexual harassment and assault allegations against the former foreign minister Dr Mohamed Asim, his successor told the press Thursday.
Asim faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace, sources confirmed to the Maldives Independent in early November.
A highly-placed source from the foreign ministry confirmed that Asim was accused of sexual harassment by at least four women, all of whom are junior civil servants. The incidents were reported through the ministry’s internal mechanisms and senior officials were aware of the accusations, said the source.
Earlier this week, Asim denied the allegations on Twitter and deleted his account.
Responding to a question by the Maldives Independent, new Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said police have informed the ministry that an investigation was underway.
“Very serious allegations were levelled inside this ministry and a committee formed under law [Sexual Harassment and Violence Prevention Act] is looking into it,” he said.
“There are two parts to allegations like this. One part is the criminal element of it. Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any other workplace cannot conduct a criminal investigation. So the authority that has to conduct a criminal investigation into such allegations is already investigating the case.”
He was expecting a report later Thursday from the ministry’s committee that investigated the allegations, he added, pledging to take action in line with recommendations.
“This ministry is a place with 80 percent female employees. I am proud of the bravery, courage and diligence of this ministry’s female employees. We will provide them with the security that they want,” he assured.
According to the Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Act, employers are responsible for investigating, taking action and protecting survivors in cases of sexual abuse.
Impunity for perpetrators is a big challenge faced by Maldivian women who have encountered workplace sexual harassment.
In 2015, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan – a Civil Service Commission member who was removed from the post by parliament for sexually harassing a staff member – was appointed as the Maldives high commissioner to Malaysia.
He remains in the post despite calls by women’s rights activists for his dismissal.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent