14-year-old Shaim Abdulla has been missing since June 18. He is to have fled while under state care, and the gender ministry’s failure to disclose the matter has led to immense public criticism.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Gender Minister Shidhatha Shareef said that the reason for this is because it involves a child, and to ensure his best interests. She emphasized that this is the ministry’s policies in such cases.
2009 - 2019; A TIMELINE
The minister has also revealed a number of details in the case, including that they were first made aware of Shaim’s case when he was just three or four years old.
A child neglect case was first reported to the ministry on 10th June 2009, but the ministry did not take any actions until 2015, except for “many interventions.”
It decided that that Shaim’s home environment was not suitable for a child, and had taken him under the state’s care and placed him at the children’s center, Kudakudhinge Hiyaa.
While he was placed at the shelter on 25th October 2015, an individual is to have expressed interest in fostering him two days later.
This was finalized on 11th January 2016, and a year later the ministry started receiving complaints regarding Shaim, including not attending school and staying out all the time.
In September 2018, ministry officials are to have checked a guest house after being tipped that he was residing there with his mother. However, it turned out to be false and the ministry is to have begun work to locate Shaim at this point.
The ministry learned that he was not living at the address provided, in January 2019, and police assistance was requested in February. It also held a “case conferencing” with the education ministry, to proceed in a way that "will be in Shaim's best interest."
While police assistance was requested in the case for a second time in April, they are to have received an address for Shaim that month. After going there, officials learnt that Shaim had not returned home for over a month and had been involved with ‘criminals.’ His guardian is to have reported the matter to the police's family and child protection services "numerous times."
Police assistance was requested a third time, who finally located Shaim on June 3rd.
He was then kept at the police’s family and child protection services until all procedures to take him under the ministry’s care was completed.
Shaim was officially taken under state care for the second time on 4th June; prior to this, the ministry is to have worked to find a family member to take him in, and his foster parent is to have denied to take him in again.
He was placed at the children’s center the same day, but separately from the other kids as the authorities did not find it fit to mix him with them.
Minister Shidhatha said that a number of complaints were reported to the ministry during the 15 days he stayed there, before fleeing on 18th June, including destroying valuables and violence.
A missing case was reported to the police on 19th June, with the ministry informing them to use “all necessary resources” in the search for Shaim.
On the night of his disappearance, the night staff at the children’s center is to have checked on him thrice while he was sleeping; at 23:40, 02:30 and 04:00.
Shaim is to have slept with his face covered on a regular basis. While it is not clear whether he did this on purpose with such a plan in mind, it is certain that this particular mannerism helped him flee.