041_Global12_Spotlight_MaldivesRS_V6

Global issue 12

SpotlightMaldives Credit: Shahee Ilyas The tiny island of Malé, with a population of over 130,000, is one of the most densely populated capital cities of the world bureaucracy can no longer absorb them. In recent years, the government has at- creasingly seen by some as a loss of cultur- Unemployment in the Maldives nearly tempted to embark on a policy of rehabili- al identity to outside influences, and these doubled from 14.4 percent in 2006 to 28 tating users while taking punitive action sentiments are often exploited by conserva- percent in 2012. against drug dealers as a way of curbing tive religious elements to their advantage. A report compiled by the Human Rights the menace. Drugs first appeared in the For example, the newly created Ministry Commission of the Maldives in 2009 high- Maldives with the arrival of tourists in the of Islamic Affairs, which is controlled by lighted the reluctance of young people to the Islamist Adhaalath Party, has recently take up menial jobs that they consider be- sought to outlaw Western-style dancing. neath them. Thus, despite high local un- The lack of education opportunities has employment, there is still a large migrant Young people represent also resulted in a growing number of Mal- workforce whose number exceeds a quarter divian youth opting to join unregulated ma- of the population. The report notes that em- the best hope for the drassas, or religious seminaries, in regions ployers are known to prefer foreign work- country’s modern of Pakistan where they are imbued with ers, because of the lower wages and the radical and extremist ideologies. Some perceived discipline issues with Maldiv- aspirations, and strong have been involved in jihadist operations, abuse. A large discontented youth popula- youth-centric policies Pakistan and other countries.with links to prominent militant groups in ian youth, including unreliability and drug tion creates conditions conducive for radi- could be the solution Young people who attended foreign uni- cal ideologies to take hold. versities were among the first to be exposed Overcrowding in Malé, combined with to unlocking a more to ideas of democracy and human rights, high unemployment, has contributed to which laid the groundwork for the demo- prosperous future for the the endemic drug abuse and violent crimes cratic revolution that culminated in the among the youth. Up to three quarters of Maldives historic multi-party elections of 2008, the all prison inmates are held on drug offen- first in the nation’s history. This shows that ces. The proportion of injected drug users young people still represent the best hope skyrocketed from 3 percent to 29 percent for the country’s modern aspirations, and between 2006 and 2009 – a thousand per- country in the mid-1970s. As the tourism strong youth-centric policies could be the cent increase in just three years. Young, industry grew, an increasing number of solution to unlocking a more prosperous unemployed Maldivians have been lured Maldivian youth were attracted to what was future for the Maldives.l into gangs, widely thought to be backed by perceived as the tourists’ glamorous life- powerful businessmen and political figures style choices. that control the drug cartels. Violent gang- Today, the culture of drugs, casual sex Yameen Rasheed is a blogger and freelance related crimes erupt sporadically. and Western music among the youth is in- writer based in Malé globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l41


Global issue 12
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