web site has the original of a Maldive court document that shows that
the Maldives imposes a discriminatory inheritance tax when a person
dies leaving only female heirs. This tax was imposed as late as 29 November 2006
on the estate of a man who died on 14 February 1992, leaving
a widow and two daughters with no apparent male next of kin
22 January 2007
The Maldives acceded to the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW) on 1 July 1993. In spite of this it continues to violate
international law in contravention of CEDAW.
Upon accession the Maldives made the following reservation:
The Government of the
Republic of Maldives will comply with the provisions of the Convention,
except those which the Government may consider contradictory to
the principles of the Islamic Sharia upon which the laws and traditions
of the Maldives is founded.
Furthermore, the Republic of Maldives does not see itself bound
by any provisions of the Convention which obliges to change its
Constitution and laws in any manner.
On 23 June 1999 the Maldives modified the reservation
The Government of the Republic of Maldives
expresses its reservation to article 7 (a) of the Convention,
to the extent that the provision contained in the said paragraph
conflicts with the provision of article 34 of the Constitution
of the Republic of Maldives .
- The Government of the Republic of Maldives reserves its right
to apply article 16 of the Convention concerning the equality
of men and women in all matters relating to marriage and family
relations without prejudice to the provisions of the Islamic Sharia,
which govern all marital and family relations of the 100 percent
Muslim population of the Maldives .
By basing a reservation to an
international treaty on domestic law and changing a reservation
after it has been made, the Maldives is in breach of Articles 27
and 19 respectively, of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
After a State Party has bound itself to a treaty under international
law it can no longer submit new reservations or extend or add to
old reservations. It is only possible to totally or partially withdraw
The Maldives submitted the revised reservations after it enacted
a new constitution that violated CEDAW nearly four years after acceding
to the convention.
In the new reservations, a reference was also made to the Maldive
authorities' ad nauseam claim that the Maldives is
100% Islamic. This reference was not made in the earlier reservation.
In 1998 a number of Maldive Christians were arrested and tortured
in prison, many of them women. Several American and European nationals
were deported following the arrest of the Maldive Christians. The
Maldive mullahs felt that it was necessary to issue a warning to
the international community and teach the world a lesson over the
issue of the local Christians. This warning to the world came in
the form of the deportations and the amended reservations to CEDAW.
In a recent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly’s
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a
Maldive government minister, Mrs. Aishath Didi, described
the prohibition on women heads of state as “odd” and
“an anachronism”. The fact is that Islam clearly does
not allow female heads of state.
Until 31 December 1952, the Maldive constitution allowed
for a female head of state. As late as 1952 a woman (who is still
alive) was nominated to become regnant monarch. The nomination was
vetoed by the mullahs who insisted on removing this loophole when
a new constitution was enacted on New Year's Day 1953.
Until the mid 20th century the Maldives was only nominally Islamic,
with custom and traditional norms taking precedence over Islam in
almost every walk of life. Until 1964, every year on a prescribed
day, the chief mullah (this office is now merged with that of the
president of the republic) issued a proclamation reminding Maldivians
and the government of their obligations under Islam. These were
promptly ignored by both the citizenry and the government. Maldive
women had the freedom to dress according to indigenous norms and
give their children Divehi language names. They also had the freedom
to be governed by female rulers. One by one, these indigenous freedoms
were assaulted by the mullahs. It looks increasingly likely that
very soon every Maldive women would be forced into the outlandish
Islamic head-dress called hijab by decree.
It is a myth to say that countries in which the state religion is
Islam allows women to become head of state. Admittedly Indonesia
had a woman president of the republic but then Islam was never the
state religion in Indonesia. Neither is it in Turkey, which has
seen a woman prime minister. Bangladesh and Pakistan have had women
prime ministers but a prime minister is merely a head of government
rather than a head of state. Iran allows female presidents of the
republic but in the Islamic Republic of Iran the head of state is
the Valy-e-Faqih or the Supreme Spiritual Leader. The Valy-e-Faqih
wields enormous power over the state and is required to be a man.
It must, however, be noted that Pakistan (which also included Bangladesh
at that time) had a female head of state from 1953 to 1956 when
that country was still a constitutional monarchy. It was indeed
"odd" and "an anachronism" at that time that
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a female and Supreme Governor
of the Church of England was the head of an Islamic state. This
was rectified when Pakistan became a republic in 1956. For the first
nine years of its turbulent life, Pakistan had Christian heads of
state- King George VI and then Queen Elizabeth II.
The Maldives continues to discriminate against
women in many ways that have yet to come to the notice of the international
This web site has the original of a Maldive court document that
shows that the Maldives imposes a discriminatory inheritance tax
when a person dies leaving only female heirs. This tax was imposed
as late as 29 November 2006 on the estate of a man who died on 14 February 1992,
leaving a widow and two daughters with no apparent male next of
kin. The court document that we have shows that the Maldives Civil
Court seized 20.833% of the estate and paid it into an account in
the Maldives Monetary Authority. This tax would not have been levied
had the deceased left behind male heirs. The deceased had taken
steps in his lifetime to spare his wife and daughters of the full
injustice that Islamic law would otherwise inflict. So his estate
consisted essentially of a sum of money owed him by the government
at the time of his death.
We will be making this court document (numbered 476/MC/2004) available
to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women as and when required. The Maldive authorities take
heart from the fact that this legal provision does not have to be
invoked often. It is probably once in several decades that a person
dies without leaving any male heirs.
We will also be making this document available to the state parties
that objected to the Maldives reservations on CEDAW. These include
Austria, Canada, Finland, the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Norway,
Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, and the Federal Republic of Germany.