Sunday 14th Jul 2024
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Ali Waheedh

The Statements of Victims of Sexual Violence at the Hands of Former Minister Ali Waheed

On June 11th last year, former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed, who returned to Maldives after years in the UK, told reporters near the official jetty in Male CIty that many of the allegations of sexual assault against him in June 2020 were fabricated. He asserted that if the story had any origin, he should have known who the women who accused him were.
The women who appeared in the police investigation, and were victims of Ali's atrocities, have now revealed some of the stories they told on camera. It turns out that the stories were not fabricated and that the women who accused him were not just numbers thrown into the air. The stories in the statements were told by young girls. The individuals told the story of the fall of a man in a responsible position in the state. The story of how the young women suffered the greatest pain a woman would ever suffer in her lifetime at the hands of a minister of the Maldivian state.
Now that the stories have come to light, it is believable that the previous President, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, had shed tears the day the girls first shared them. However, with the former president failing to provide justice for the individuals and paving the way for Ali to flee Maldives, now allowing his political party to rebuild his political career, it is questionable whether there is humanity and honest intentions behind the tears.

Sexual Harassment and Abuse: From Minor Abuse to the Most Serious Abuse

I will not include the names of the women who were victims of Ali, to prevent them from becoming victims of injustice a second time. However, the pain the women endured, and the stories of the abuse Ali gave the women are previously unknown to the public.

As the statements given by these victims to the police investigation surfaced on social media, The Maldives Journal tried to verify the authenticity of the statements from various sources and confirmed that all these statements were given by the victims to the police.

The first leaked statement was made by a female employee of the Tourism Ministry who held a political position at the time. Her statement told of an incident that occurred while swimming during a trip to Ali's Island Thoddoo. She said she was swimming that day when Ali followed her and harassed her.

Ali then used a secret chat on Viber to send messages to the victim and tried to talk to the employee in a way that a senior government official should not talk to their employees.

Then her statement told the story of the time when the Tourism Ministry employees were at the Hulhule Island Hotel. Ali said the his room at the hotel was taken for office purposes, but he sent other employees to their rooms and asked her to come to his room.

"The minister said that my lips are so beautiful, [he said I was] a very beautiful woman, my legs are beautiful and the way I walk in the office is very different," the young woman said.

She described how she felt at the time when she was addressed in this way by a man who was bigger than an ordinary Maldivian, who held a powerful position in the state and who was politically "profound."

"At that moment, when the minister spoke like that, I started to squeeze my hands in fear," she said.

After that, Ali then showed the young woman the bed in the room. He asked for them to lie down together. She said that he asked for that a few times. When she refused, Ali described the young woman as "very incompetent" and "very stupid," and mocked her for protecting her chastity and dignity, saying she did not dare to sleep with Ali in bed.

After these conversations, Ali did not get what he wanted from the young woman. The young woman was lucky enough to be able to leave the room with a call on her phone.

He Attacked a Girl, Regardless of the Tears She Shed

The second statement was also given by a young woman who held a political position in the Ministry of Tourism. She was also Ali Waheed's personal assistant at the time. Ali communicated with this employee only through a secret chat.

During an office trip to a resort, she refused to meet him separately and told him that he could meet a state minister at the resort instead. All this happened while they were eating at the same table with another employee of the office and a state minister. The girl left and went to her room at the resort following the exchange.

After 12 o'clock in the morning, Ali rang the bell of the room where the girl was and knocked on the door. The girl was in the bathroom and Ali sent a message saying, "This is the Minister, open the door.” She didn't open the door. Ali knocked on the door for about an hour, the young woman said.

When he stopped knocking, she left her room and journeyed towards another girl’s room, at which point Ali came and grabbed her hand and forced her to hug him. Ali told the girl that she would be able to live with him, be given the position of deputy minister and travel abroad.

After much back and forth, Ali changed his demeanour and changed his words and took the girl to his room to discuss the work and an important file in his room.

The girl who entered the room trusting the word of the minister faced brutal attacks. She had to run around the room to avoid being caught by Ali as he tried to lock the room and hug her. He ran after her, grabbed her, and forced her clothes off, then detailing everything else Ali did in her statement. "I cried and screamed a lot, saying I didn't want to do what the minister wanted me to do," she told the police investigators.

The girl escaped by bringing to Ali's attention that she had a relationship with a friend of Ali’s and told him that she would tell the friend everything that had happened that night. However, even then, Ali groped the girl, violating her.

The young woman said she had told various levels of the office about Ali's actions against her. She also took the complaint to the ministers of the President's Office. Even then, Ali continued to sexually abuse the young woman, saying he wanted to do things he couldn't do at the resort.

When she said she would reveal what Ali was doing, he threatened the girl, saying that he would "show his power" and "then you will know who the minister is.”

The young woman who gave the statement also learned that the other employees had known that Ali had tried to rape another girl during a trip to Dubai with a female employee. That was also included in her statement. The women's statement indicated that many such incidents had been reported in the office.

He is Accused of Raping a Girl Twice

The third statement made public so far details the crimes that Ali Waheed committed against a civil service employee of the Ministry of Tourism.

Tourism Ministry employees gathered for a safari while the entire country was closed due to the pandemic. He repeatedly asked a female employee to come to the room where Ali was on the safari. However, she escaped without entering Ali's room.

Tourism Ministry employees took a floor from the Maagiri Hotel and temporarily occupied it. During that time, the young woman’s charger was taken away by another employee of the ministry and given to Ali, who asked the girl to come to the room to take back the charger.

When she went to his room to check the charger, Ali was preparing his room like a hunting trap. "The minister was opening the door of the room, turning off the lights and singing very loudly. He was wearing only a shirt near the door," the young woman told police.

When the girl entered the room, he locked the room, touched various parts of her body, grabbed her sensitive organs, and forced her to touch the inside of his clothes. Then he threw the girl on the bed in the room and sat down by her. Then he took off her clothes and continued to sexually assault her.

She said she was taken to the minister's room and raped a second time. After this incident, Ali then joked about her and chastised her in front of the office. She was yelled at for all the work she did and compared to everyone in the office. she assumes this was done to mentally defeat and crush her.

The Trust Given by a President and What Happened

The stories told by the women who allegedly became his victims are heartbreaking. About 15 girls have told such stories, which shows that it is a pattern. Although not all statements are public, these statements will contain almost the same stories.

It is not easy for women who suffer from sexual harassment and abuse from powerful people to talk about it. Because of this, they face many difficulties and troubles. People in power are also afraid of others with influence and power. However, the girls were encouraged to share their stories with the police because of the trust and assurance given to them by then-President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Relying on that certainty, the victims took a big risk and shared all of their experiences with the police. The police worked hard to conduct an investigation and gather enough evidence to file a criminal charge. However, before the trial started properly, Ali left using the airport's VIP lounge, despite an order issued by the Criminal Court.

That’s where a different phase began. Political powers began to pressure the prosecutor to withdraw the charges against Ali. Gradually, the girls' statements were put under a layer of secrecy but turned out to be short-lived, with witnesses becoming known to those who should not know them. The witnesses withdrew their statements and refused to testify. The prosecution’s case became completely obscured.

If the statements made by the victims in this case were false, they committed a criminal offence. The story also hurt Ali Waheed's reputation. However, neither the state nor Ali Waheed acted against any of the girls, which would have been done if the statements were false.

This is not an ordinary occurrence. The public should know about these atrocities, justice should be done, and these types of incidents should be prevented from happening in the future. The attitude of the whole country towards such matters is a measure of the moral and social decay of the country. Though the accusations against Ali were gotten rid of, there is no reason to forget them. The story of how he escaped the charges should also be investigated and made public.