Dunya Maumoon ready for battle with extremists over Domestic Violence Bill
Opposition DRP Women's Wing Chief Dunya Maumoon, the daughter of former President Gayoom, is ready to dare any opposition from "extremist elements" over the upcoming Bill on Domestic Violence.
In an interview with Asian Tribune she did not rule out the possibility of "some extreme-view Islamic scholars" protesting the Bill.
And in the event of any objection, Dunya is ready for a battle.
"I am ready to face any possible opposition to the Bill from conservative elements," she said.
A staunch campaigner for women's rights in the Maldives, she is the prime mover behind the Bill on Domestic Violence, due in Parliament in early July.
The Bill includes a "wide definition of Domestic Violence (both physical and mental abuse), the support to be provided to victims of abuse and the actions to be taken against perpetrators."
It seeks to set up a possible new Family Protection Authority.
The Bill will also create awareness on the ‘un-Islamic’ nature of issues such as child concubines -- where children are kept as sex slaves by extremists, giving religious justification.
But she finds "it hard to believe how any scholar could argue that Islam condones violence against women or abuse of girl-children."
Following are excerpts:
Asian Tribune: What are the key features of the Bill on Domestic Violence?
Dunya Maumoon : The Domestic Violence Bill which is expected to reach Parliament by early July 2010, is an important step in the battle against Domestic Violence in the Maldives, a battle which has been gaining momentum in the country in recent years.
The Bill seeks to protect women and men as well as boys and girls from violence they may face especially within the home environment, from family members as well as partners.
The key features of the Bill include a wide definition of Domestic Violence (both physical and mental abuse), the support to be provided to victims of abuse and the actions to be taken against perpetrators, the role of the Police and other key Government institutions such as the Ministry of Health and Family, a possible new Family Protection Authority, as well as outlining the key role of civil society and NGOs.
Asian Tribune: How helpful do you think the bill would be in tackling recently sprang up issues like child concubines?
Dunya Maumoon : I believe that the Bill will add further strength to the work already being carried-out on important issues such as child concubines and child abuse by creating awareness amongst the Parliamentarians and the public on zero tolerance on these issues.
Furthermore, through the Bill, DRP hopes to create awareness regarding the ‘un-Islamic’ nature of issues such as child concubines and child abuse.
Our Islamic scholars have already spoken out on this area and I am optimistic that the Bill will also strengthen and encourage the law enforcement agencies to take active steps to punish perpetrators.
Asian Tribune: Given the fact that gender is a sensitive matter in the Maldives, how prepared are you to face any possible opposition from religious scholars over the bill? Do you foresee any areas in the bill that will result in a controversy?
Dunya Maumoon : Definitely the Bill will create much discussion regarding marriage and the family and especially the rights accorded to men and women by Islam.
It is possible that some extreme-view Islamic scholars may have issues regarding certain aspects of the Bill, but overall I find it hard to believe how any scholar could argue that Islam condones violence against women or abuse of girl-children.
DRP will work to build bridges and seek the viewpoints of Parliamentarians and scholars from different parties and different walks of life.
At the same time, I am ready to face any possible opposition to the Bill from conservative elements. I have through-out my working professional life advocated strongly for Maldivian women’s rights and empowerment and worked for it.
I am confident that I will be able to overcome any barriers and challenges I may face.
- Asian Tribune -