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On the early hours of 26 July 2020, two individuals with close ties to the ruling party, parliament and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih allegedly raped a Kenyan who in her self-defense was forced to jump aboard the marine vessel to save herself. The police arrived and arrested the two individuals from the scene of crime, intoxicated and in violation of the nationwide curfew order.

Hours later the two suspects later identified as Shah Hassan the husband of MP Jeehan Mahmood and a Wisam Hassan, a cousin of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih were freed. The arresting officer allegedly told the grieving victim that the suspects were freed because of their close connection to the government. The suspects boasted to the victim of how they were from a supposed “Royal Family”. The following weeks saw the social media filled with outrage as “#RoyalRape” took over twitter with thousands calling for the arrest of the rapists.

The government however, turned a blind eye to the case with the Police refusing to even answer the media on the “royal rape” case.

This trend of turning a blind eye to the crimes, corruption and violations of protocols by the elites in the ruling party has become the new norm under President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration. Few weeks after the “royal rape” case, then Tourism Minister Ali Waheed get embroiled in a scandal after audio leaked of the minister sexually harassing his fellow cabinet minister, Minister of Transport Aishath Nahula.

According to sources close to the President’s office, Minister Nahula expressed her concerns to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who remained silent until months later when 18 staffs from the Tourism Ministry sent a letter of concern detailing Tourism Minister Ali Waheed’s sexual harassment.

A few weeks later social media was overtaken after news of harassment against prominent journalist Rae Munavvar broke out, this time the perpetrator was the Communications Sectretary at the President’s Office Hassan Ismail. Being the brother of the influential Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail ensured that President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih turned a blind eye to Hassan Ismail’s repeated sexual harassment of Rae Munavvar.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s lackluster efforts to address the many allegations of sexual harassment from within his cabinet and his government has paved way for elite individual’s to reap benefit from the “Royal Pass”. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, senior officials within the government were seen repeatedly breaking the quarantine protocols set by the HPA citing a “special permit” or the “Royal Pass”.

The notion of a certain group of individuals within the upper echelons of the government being above the constitution and the laws of Maldives goes against the fundamental principles of democracy where each and every one is equal under the rule of law.

By turning a blind eye to these crimes, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has weakened the government’s ability to enact rule of law and justice in the Maldives. The extent of this failure was seen when an intoxicated Indian expat spat in the face of law by ridiculing the constitution of Maldives, blasphemed and made crude gestures at a police officer not 2 feet away from the individual. Though the expat was arrested for a few hours, through an alleged influence through the High Commission of India in the Maldives, the expat was released.

The act of turning a blind eye to criminal acts such as harassment is in itself a crime for those with the authority to halt such crimes. A police officer who looks the other way when a speeding cyclist passes by in negligent. He has enabled the cyclist to continue on to speed just as President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has enabled all these sexual harasser’s to continue on to prey on their victims while elitists continue on to violate the system.

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