Hundreds of men and women stand on the side of the road waving placards under the hot sun. Police and military are nearby, watching. I’m in Male, the capital of the Maldives and standing in the middle of a protest. The Maldivans aren’t happy. Beyond the idyllic beaches and luxurious resorts I’ve discovered another side of this small island nation. As part of my long running work to raise attention about violence and discrimination against women for my foundation Project Monma, I came to the Maldives. I wanted to learn more about how this country’s precarious human rights situation and unsteady relationship with democracy was faring with women. I approached some of the burqa clad women in the street and asked them why they were there. ‘We are protesting against corruption,’ they told me.
‘We have no rights here,’ they yell showing me their signs. ‘There is no democracy.’