Police have returned seven underage girls who escaped from the Villi-Male’ orphanage ‘Kudakudhinge Hiya’.
Police told local media they were called to the orphanage at 8:00pm on Sunday and informed that seven girls had fled the building.
According to local media, police refused to disclose where and when the girls were found, but confirmed they had been returned.
Local newspaper ‘Haveeru’ reported that another two girls who escaped from the orphanage were found on a ‘bokkura’ – a small local vessel – in the lagoon nearVilli-Male’ with two boys.
Staff at the orphanage are not allowed to speak to the media.
State Minister for Gender Ministry Dr Aishath Rameela has told newspaper Haveeru that the ministry has not been able to clarify the reason why the girls tried to escape.
Rameela told the paper the girls were found in different areas of Villi-Male’ at around 8:30pm – half an hour after their escape – after police, staff at the orphanage and residents of Villi-Male’ searched for them.
In January police detained two girls who escaped the orphanage, prompting the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) to call for their immediate release.
At the time local media alleged that the two girls, aged 15 and 16, had escaped the orphanage in the middle of the night to fraternise with some boys.
The case was then tabled at the parliament’s National Security Committee which summoned the head of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS), the Minister of Gender, Family and Human Rights, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), and representatives from the Villingili orphanage.
Sources familiar with Maafushi prison at the time confirmed to Minivan News that the two underage females were being kept with two other underage female inmates completing their sentences.