A 16 year-old girl was taken into police custody for dressing inappropriately in the capital Male’ this afternoon (May 5).
Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that the minor was alone in Novelty Bookshop in Male’ when she was taken into custody for wearing a black cocktail dress.
“The societal norms and values of Maldivian culture were violated,” Haneef told Minivan News. “There are laws, which might fall under the Anti-social Behaviour Act.”
The girl was taken into police custody because people were “teasing her on the street,” according to local media.
“The minor was given a police jacket to cover herself and taken to the Family and Child Protection department,” Haneef said.
“Police explained to her about how her dress should be as well as called her parents and advised them regarding this. She was not arrested and is not being charged or penalised. We were not concerned with her dress, just with the nudity. We don’t want [this to go to] court,” he added.
Haneef emphasised that the issue in question was upholding societal norms and values and if anyone witnesses someone violating those standards they should report them to the police.
“If someone is not meeting these expectations they can be arrested, but it is very rare. It depends on a case by case basis,” explained Haneef.
“Anyone can dress with nudity, even in plain clothes, if they are showing any personal, private parts and society does not accept that,” an anonymous police official told Minivan News.
“She was very, very, very, very naked. Her dress was transparent,” the official added.
Pictures of the minor taken by bystanders have flooded social media.
Anti-social behavior act
While the Anti-social Behavior Act in the Maldives lists specific offences that could be considered antisocial behavior, dress codes in public are not dealt with in the law passed by parliament in 2010.
Offences that could be considered anti-social behaviour are specified in articles five through 14 of the law, including harassing people on the streets (article 6(a)).
Other offences include harassing or intimidating neighbours, exhibitionism, damaging personal property, spraying graffiti on walls, putting up posters and banners without permission, playing loud music and leaving garbage bags on the roads.