“…the honourable President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s decision to commute Ibrahim Rasheed’s sentence was for the sake of humanity.”(translated from the statement issued by the Maldivian Democratic Party concerning Hoara Ibbe’s release.)
The extract translated above is from the statement released by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) regarding the early release of convicted paedophile, close friend of former President Nasheed and loyal MDP stooge Ibrahim Rasheed, popularly known as Hoara Ibbe’. I have never come across a statement justifying the release of a convicted paedophile for the sake of humanity before. Moreover, given the events that transpired before and after the release of Hoara Ibbe’, it is worth asking oneself just what the meaning of humanity in Dhivehi patriarchy is and who belongs in the category of humanity in Dhivehi patriarchy, deserving of benevolence and kindness.
Hoara Ibbe’s release sparked outrage on social media for the very obvious reason that he is a paedophile who had groomed a child. For those who supported his release however, Ibbe’ is anything but a paedophile. According to Ibbe’s supporters (both women and men) he is a politician who has been targeted by his opponents with politically motivated charges to bring him down at any cost. He is a family man whose wife and two children need him. Other pro-Ibbe’ arguments floating around at the time also included general whataboutisms, emphasis on context and allusions to the hypocrisy of those who have consensual sex with people their own age.
To make up my own mind, I decided to compile a rough timeline of events from information sourced from news articles and the statement publicly released by Zurriyya (Hoara Ibbe’s wife).
11 NOVEMBER 2008
Mohamed Nasheed is sworn in as President. A vocal MDP activist, Ibbe’ was appointed under-secretary at the President’s Office during Nasheed’s presidency.
7 FEBRUARY 2012
Nasheed’s government is overthrown by a military coup. VP Waheed assumes the role of President.
Zurriyya travels to Male’ with her parents to marry Ibbe’. She is 17 years old at the time and yet to turn 18. Her age as per the Hijri calendar is irrelevant.
According to her statement, she claims to have initiated contact with Ibbe’ and kept in touch with him regularly.
06 DECEMBER 2012
Hoara Ibbe’ is arrested at G. Maavas. News articles citing police information reveal that Ibbe’, who would have been 45 or 46 years old at the time, was found naked in bed with a 17-year-old Zurriyya. Police later declined to verify this claim.
06 DECEMBER 2012 to 6 JANUARY 2013
Ibbe’ was kept in pre-trial detention for a month after his arrest.
06 JANUARY 2013
The Criminal Court places Ibbe’ under house arrest.
19 FEBRUARY 2013
Prosecutor General (Azima Shukoor) filed a case with the Criminal Court, charging Ibbe’ of sexually abusing a minor under article (c) of the Special Measure for Perpetrators of Child Sex Abuse Act 2009 (some articles call it the Act on Extraordinary Standards Governing the Penalties for those who Sexually Abuse Children), which states perpetrators of child sex abuse can be sentenced up to 10-14 years in prison (Article 3(a) and 3(c)). His trial was scheduled for March 2013.
Source: https://twitter.com/ZShukoor/status/1070274344121643010 , https://minivannewsarchive.com/politics/mdp-%E2%80%98hoara%E2%80%99-ibbe%E2%80%99s-sexual-assault-trial-scheduled-next-month-53848
Ibbe marries Zurriyya (who is 18 years old now), while under house arrest, and it is unclear if this was after or before the beginning of his trial for sexually abusing her. He fails to mention when and where the ceremony took place. Local news reported Ibbe’ “showing the girl to the journalists”.
JUNE – JULY 2013 (
Zurriyya is pregnant (about three months after the marriage). Ibbe’s case was ongoing and has not concluded at this point.
17 NOVEMBER 2013
Abdulla Yameen is sworn in as President.
01 DECEMBER 2013 (
Ibbe’ is found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Criminal Court for touching a minor with sexual intent/ sexually abusing a minor. He objected to the charges in court during a closed-door trial, claiming that Zurriyya is his girlfriend and that they are in a relationship.
However, based on the statements provided by the witnesses produced by the prosecution, the judge found that Ibbe’ had indeed been guilty of pursuing sexual relations with a minor. Police who made the arrest testified to witnessing Ibbe’ and Zurriyya naked in bed. By the time Ibbe’s sentence was handed down, Zurriyya had been married to Ibbe’ for 10 months and is 7 months pregnant.
Source: https://en.sun.mv/51064 , https://twitter.com/ZShukoor/status/1070274344121643010
The High Court upholds Ibbe’s original sentence handed down by the Criminal Court in 2013, after Ibbe’ appeals his conviction at the High Court.
Source: https://avas.mv/1941 , https://edition.mv/news/8131
18 DECEMBER 2016
Clemency Board reviews Ibbe’s case and recommends transferring Ibbe’ to house arrest, President Abdullah Yameen’s administration did not follow through with this recommendation.
17 NOVEMBER 2018
MDP, JP, Adhaalath coalition presidential candidate Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih is sworn in as President.
04 DECEMBER 2018
The newly instated President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih commuted Ibbe’s sentence to three days and releases him from prison. Ibbe was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his sentence ending on August 8, 2023. He has over five years of his sentence to serve. This was done according to the recommendation made by the Clemency Board. According to the Clemency Act, the President cannot pardon someone for sexual offences against a child but can commute sentences. (Note: This is the 19th day of Ibu Solih’s presidency).
05 DECEMBER 2018
Zurriyya releases a statement addressing the release of her husband Ibbe’, in which she defends him, insisting on his innocence and stating that he is not a paedophile, but a politician caught up in politically motivated charges.
Looking through the timeline, it is undeniable that the release of Hoara Ibbe’ for the sake of humanity by President Ibu Solih represents a double standard of morality and power rampant in Dhivehi society and its institutions. It lays bare the degree to which the grooming, sexualisation, objectification and abuse of women and girls in Dhivehi society is normalised. Despite his arrest after he was caught in bed with a 17-year-old Zurriyya, Ibbe’ went on to marry and showcase her like an appliance to journalists while under house arrest. By the time he is found guilty of sexually abusing a minor, Zurriyya is seven months pregnant. How he was able to marry the minor he was on trial for sexually abusing, and then father a child with her is baffling to the say the very least.
The sad and appalling truth is that men in Dhivehi society have, can and do inflict gross amounts violence against women and girls and get away with it because our society, politicians and the criminal justice system are equally complicit in perpetuating this violence. Even if I were to entertain the notion that Ibbe’ was the target of politically motivated charges, it changes nothing. It only adds to the truth that women and children are pawns in the corrupt games of powerful men and their cronies, and that Ibbe’ was released because he is a powerful man with friends in powerful places.
This isn’t the first time anyone has come across accounts of the appalling things that powerful men in powerful positions do to women and girls without consequence. Coalition Presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his party were complicit when religious conservative party Adhaalath found it “hard to accept” a woman candidate for Vice President during last year’s presidential election. Apparently, scholars (read men) had advised that a woman could not become head of state in an Islamic nation. Within the space of one press conference, a group of mediocre men passing for intellectuals had demarcated the acceptable parameters for women as active agents in the Dhivehi political sphere.
Ironically, at the time this press conference was held, Adhaalath’s one seat toehold in the Majlis was being held secure by a woman.
Shortly after the coalition government came into power, allegations of sexual assault and exploitation surfaced on social media against Vice President Faisal Naseem and Speaker of Parliament Qasim Ibrahim. Accounts by women who had been employed at Paradise Island Resort, originally from a blogpost dating back to 2015, was shared on Facebook. In these accounts, Qasim (who owns Paradise Island Resort), Faisal (the former Director of Araamu Spa at Paradise Island Resort) and a number of other men are accused of committing and covering up the sexual abuse of women employees and using their power and political clout to threaten their victims into silence. It takes immense courage and strength for women to disclose experiences of sexual assault and exploitation, which in this case is against two of the most powerful men in the country. Maybe the current government is silent about these severely alarming accusations for the sake of humanity as well.
“My boss #FaisalNaseem the director of #AraamuSpa of #VillaHotels was extremely nice to me. At first he would show me around, how to work there, the reports he needed etcetera. This is how my dreams became nightmares in short. I’ll get to the point now. One day he asked me to come to a massage room. Without having second thoughts I went there. He closed the door keepin me inside. No one else was there. He went to changing room and came out completely naked. When he came in front of me I begged him “sir, please keep things professional between us”. He said “it’s ok, in spa you’ve to learn everything”. I begged him “please sir please, I’m nt that type of a girl, I would like to keep things professional, I’m a receptionist, not a therapist”. He kept saying “it’s okay, there is nothing to worry about. You have to learn these things”. I asked “sir, do you want me to call a therapist to give you a massage”. He got closer to me and his private part was almost touching me. My heart was pounding, tears were rolling down my cheeks, I was shaking and couldn’t even talk properly, I’ve never been that scared in my life. When he held my hand I told him “please sir, don’t touch me, I can’t do what you want me to do, please keep things professional”. I removed his hands off me. I felt like I was being raped. When he tried to make me hold his private part I ran, unlocked the door, got out of massage room and went to my room. He called my mobile and sent messages several times, I didn’t respond.”Source: Crazy Maldives. Read more about it here: http://archive.fo/IJLwc
As I write this, one of the latest moral outrages sweeping across Dhivehi society is Mohamed Nasheed’s mere mention of single women and access to birth control. Speaking at an MDP campaign event last Wednesday (January 16), Nasheed discussed the need for single women to have access to birth control as a means for addressing “the issue of children born out wedlock”, noting that currently only married women have access to birth control in the country. Access to different means of reproductive control for all Dhivehi women, from the pill to abortions, is essential. It is essential to securing our autonomy and regaining control over our bodies. I write from a place of personal knowing, from the experience of knowing Dhivehi women who had no choice but to risk their lives undergoing dangerous and unsafe abortions or face the stigma of being an unmarried woman with a child. This is further evidenced by the few existing studies on the reproductive health of Dhivehi women, the collective findings of which shows that abortion is more common among Dhivehi women and girls than it is among married couples.
However, the very next day (January 17), local child bride enthusiast, avid pro-Rajam advocate, resident moral entrepreneur and festering boil Ali Zaid surfaced on Twitter to condemn what he claims to be Nasheed’s indirect encouragement of fornication.
Roughly translated, his tweet reads: “A person indirectly says that fornication is ‘ok’. The real problem is when you are found out! You are found out when you become pregnant! That can be prevented by getting an ‘abortion’!! What rubbish is this?! This kind of talk is absolutely against religion. I harshly condemn this.”
The day after (January 18), Nasheed, the most internationally respected and well-known Dhivehi politician, succumbs to the moral outrage and semantic distortions of the likes of Zaid. Releasing a statement on Twitter, Nasheed denied supporting fornication, apologising for any misunderstanding caused by his earlier remarks about the relationship between having children out of wedlock, the disadvantage faced by such children and drug abuse. Meanwhile, current news on violence against women include the rape of a 65-year-old woman in her home at knifepoint and the sentencing of a woman in absentia to death by stoning (and no, just because it is not happening anymore does not change the fact that a judge was able to sentence a woman to death by stoning to begin with).
Everything that I have discussed above, happened before and after the release of Hoara Ibbe’, the point in time from which we have gone back and forth seeking the answer to what humanity means in Dhivehi patriarchy and who belongs to it, deserving of benevolence, kindness and humane treatment.
Humanity in Dhivehi patriarchy means being benevolent, just, kind and compliant to hypocritical men who abuse their power and authority to perpetuate violence against women and girls in the full knowledge that they will never have to face the consequences, because there are no consequences.
Humanity in Dhivehi patriarchy means cisgender, conservative men. Those who belong to the category of humanity in Dhivehi patriarchy are the paedophiles, predators and politicians amongst us.
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