The Problem with Conflict of Interest

mmprc

MMPRC; the face of state enabled corruption involving billions of MVR – Source: Haveeru Daily

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.”

In the current political environment of the country, it is interesting to note just how many people who can actually make a difference, sit back & watch all because, yes, all because of ‘conflict of interest’.

While these groups of people are busy protecting whatever interests that they see fit, the government of the day is protecting their interests as well. The interests that brings in tons of money – all illegal of course, that would fatten up their coffers, leaving us hanging dry.

The aspect that scares me the most is the lawlessness that prevails and finds its footing in a society that refuses to see it for what it is. The educated and the intellects sitting back to watch the dirt unfold all because they refuse to get their hands contaminated by wading into the muck is one of the many reasons why Maldives has taken such a dangerous turn today.

The recent murder in Hithadhoo is one that should be fresh on our minds. But I wonder whether it is. Becoming desensitized enough to say, ‘oh, murder!’ and move on is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. At the time of writing this article, police has arrested a suspect in connection to this heinous murder of a father, a beloved man in a community where men are scarce and few, having to abandon their homes, families, wives and children to go seek employment elsewhere in the luxury resorts that are scattered all across the country.

Our institutions that should safeguard the people remain indebted to those in power. Bound by the laws of corruption which most are guilty of. The fact that the public at large actually believe that everyone is corrupt to an extent, that it is an accepted norm in society scares the perhaps idealistic soul in me. The 2015 survey that was conducted by Transparency Maldives on the matter of public perception of government institutions speaks volumes.

Why can’t we see wrong for wrong and condemn it? Why can’t we denounce the politicians who see it fit to benefit off of the tons of money that comes into the country year in and year out and question whatever scraps they throw our way, perhaps an air conditioning unit or two or a  paved road that would not see the light of maintenance for years to come, or the money that changes hands from the First Lady to that of a public who are struggling to make ends meet?

Look at countries like Mexico, the crime hub of Central America or North as some put it, a country famous for its lawlessness, mob infused life, drug cartels reigning over entire territories. Do you really think that Maldives can afford to walk along the same lines? Because believe it or not, we are traveling in that very direction and are already seeing the emergence of elements that attests to this fact. The indomitable United States of America is faced with the fact that their borders haven’t prevented the escalating levels of crime from spilling over onto their side.

Disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan is such a case that indicates the dangerous path the country is traversing upon. 575 days it has been, filled with negligence from the authorities, the parliament turning away from the matter altogether, and law enforcement agencies blatantly confronting the family and friends who have been seeking answers since then.

Mexico didn’t happen overnight. It took years of negligence, looking the other way, deep rooted corruption & not to mention, the intellects refusing to stand up for fear of meddling with affairs of ‘conflict of interest’ that led them to where they are today. From the public that is caught in the middle, those who can afford to leave, flee. The rest, they have no choice but to deal with the hand that they have been dealt with, adjust to the life of crime or join the foray into which they have been born into.

Not everyone is cut out for activism. No. Neither will everyone be equally passionate about putting the country to rights. Most just live for the day. As long as their lives are on track, as long as they can watch the English Premier League on weekends in the comfort of their homes & watch their family thrive in a cocoon filled with a false sense of security, that is all that matters.

But a scandal like the one that Maldives is currently facing, a money laundering scheme on top of large sums of state funds being siphoned off by higher ups in the government; these are the instances that defines a nation’s future. These are the big game changers, effects of which will last for generations. Refusing or unwilling to stand up and do your bit today to put things to right is ensuring that the regime of the day wins in whatever plans they have in store for themselves. And mark my words. They are NOT looking out for the interests of the people they’ve been ‘elected’ to govern. Never have they been.

The scandal that the national tourism office of Maldives, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) is involved in, corruption amounting in the billions; the fact that the entire judiciary has been hijacked, the bitter truth that the parliament belongs to the regime and the undeniable reality that free media is barely thriving under the stifling control that the regime is slowly exerting on it speaks volumes of the future Maldivians are going to be living in. It is more than high time that the educated intellectuals and the colorless of the society thought about these things and acted upon them. Time that the color prejudices be left behind. Yellow, pink, red or green – all this eventually falls back on us. Because this is the moment that is irrevocably defining our collective future.

worstilliterate

Source: Pinterest.com

The educated might think that they can always migrate and move elsewhere. That the education they have will always take them places. One question I have for them is whether they really think that with the current refugee and migration crisis that has come to the forefront in the world is going to make it easy for countries to accept more foreigners onto their soil? With the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is echoing loudly across the world, the entire face of the global world is changing – and changing fast. It is up to us to make our home a habitable one, a bearable one, one that future generations; our children can live in without falling into the pitfall in the making today.

A prime example of what I am talking about unfolded recently in the United States itself; the toxic water disaster and scandal that befell on the Michigan city of Flint, having led President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency over the crisis. Many saw what was happening. Few spoke up. End result has been lead poisoning that could cause debilitating health conditions, stunted growth in children and eventually untimely deaths – all which could have been avoided had the people been more proactive.

Today, those who can leave have upped and left to other parts of the country. Those who cannot afford to do so, have been left behind to make do with whatever it is they are left with. The institution of public trust over the state government has been lost. A couple of millions of dollars in compensation doesn’t help in the longer scheme of things.

So, do your bit. Help out. Even in the littlest things. It can make a huge difference along the way. None of this is going to be easy. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be proactive. Try. Speak of the truth – it would make a difference. If you are in a “sensitive” position in terms of the government, enlist help of people who can get the truth out there. Don’t become a tool that parrots the lies and half truths of a government that is beyond all rational hope.

As Muslims, fearing anyone else more than Allah Almighty, whom you’d be answerable to on the Day of Judgement is foolhardy at best. That is exactly where we go wrong. That is exactly what needs to change if we want to transform our nation and make a good difference in anything in this godforsaken country of ours.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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Preventing the Next Ziyadha

VAWOMEN

Source: Deviant Art

‘Globally, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime’
(Heise, L., Ellsberg, M., and M. Gottemoeller 1999)

It was during December of the year we just bid adios to, that the news of a woman named Ziyadha Naeem from Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo made the headlines. While details that emerged were scantily few, her 40-year old husband was arrested on charges of sexual abuse while Ziyadha lay in the Intensive Care Unit of the state run Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, fighting for her life. Doctors fearful of her critical condition denied the permission for Ziyadha to be airlifted out of country to seek treatment from abroad. Ziyadha finally succumbed to her injuries and passed away on the 28th of December.

Details of her injuries are indicative of severe abuse via a sharp object, having rendered her unable to walk properly. Ziyadha sought medical care from the regional hospital in her island 20 days after she sustained the injuries according to news sources. By the time she had traveled to the capital Male’, and sought the attention of a doctor well known in the Maldivian gynecology circles, it had already been too late. Ziyadha’s husband and his family meanwhile denies the charges, carrying out their own version of PR for the 40 year old who till today remains under police custody. Ziyadha had sustained her injuries all by herself, if her husband’s family are to be believed.

Ziyadha – Same Story, Different Victim

Ziyadha’s story is nothing new on the large scale of violence sexual and otherwise that are faced by women all over the country. A study carried out in Maldives on Women’s Health and Life Experiences by the UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO, in coordination with Ministry of Gender and Family back in 2007 reveals alarming statistics of how widespread a “disease” violence against women is in Maldives.

According to the report, 1 in 3 women aged 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. While 19.5% of the women aged 15-49 indicated that the violence that they had experienced had come from an intimate partner, 29.2% of women in the same age bracket had reported experiencing emotional abuse by a partner at least once. While intimate partner violence seems to be more widespread in the atolls, aka rural areas than in the capital, non-partner violence such as physical and sexual violence at the hands of male family members seems to be more rampant in Male’.

While the data in itself and what it reveals is disturbing, I believe that it just skims the surface on how widespread physical and emotional violence against women remains in our society. What happened to Ziyadha has come to our attention in various other cases in the past and in recent times.

One needs to look no further than the case of 3-year old Mohamed Ibthihal who died due to injuries sustained at the hands of his 25-year old mother Afiya Mohamed. While many are overwrought with emotion over the brutality that Ibthihal had suffered at the hands of his mother and rightly so, all emotions aside, Afiya herself had been a victim of the nonexistent system of protection afforded to women like her, women who had endured cycles of abuse for so long that it had become a way of life. Years of abuse had finally culminated in an act so horrific that few would, if at all, look beyond what she had done.

Another case, another year. 2010 saw the murder of Hassan Shahid at the hands of his ex-wife Mariyam Nazaha, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in August of 2011. Nazaha’s story was one of a chronic cycle of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, with witnesses giving statements on how they had seen Shahid abuse Nazaha on occasions. However, none of that factored in on Nazaha’s sentencing carried out by the Criminal Court. She remains behind bars for the foreseeable future.

A different case, a different island. 2012 brought to our attention the case of a 15-year old girl arrested from S. Feydhoo, the southern most atoll in Maldives. Her stepfather who had allegedly being abusing her for years which had resulted in an unwanted pregnancy had been the tipping point which had led to their arrests. She was sentenced to a round of flogging which triggered an international outcry that overturned that particular sentence. However, the fate of this girl is similarly echoed by countless others who are abused in such a vile manner by those that should protect and cherish them through their most vulnerable years. Society frowns upon these victims, believing THEM to be the ones at fault, the loose ones without any morals.

4 cases of sexual and physical violence against women of different age groups discussed here is indicative of several things. One, the system has failed these victims miserably. Two, there exists no safe haven for either girls or women of sexual and physical abuse. Three, government seems to lack the political will to tackle such a widespread and rampant social issue that is eroding away the very fabric of our society.

Current System – Lacking in Too Many Ways to Count

2012 saw the ratification of the Domestic Violence Bill which declared all acts of domestic violence as a punishable crime and afforded protection and safety to victims of such violence amongst the wide range of areas covered in the bill. However, zooming in on Ziyadha’s case brings forth the lack of an Evidence Bill that would aid the prosecution of the case against her husband.

Since Ziyadha presented herself to the medical institution 20 days after she sustained the injuries, it would only be secondhand testimonies of the doctors who had attended to her as well as those that she had divulged to what had happened to her that would be sole basis of the case if I am not mistaken. There is however news circulating that Ziyadha’s body is to be sent abroad for postmortem which might yield better clues as to what happened that fateful day. Questions remain however on how would one prove that she had sustained her injuries from the hands of her husband, from whom she had been living separately by then. I am no lawyer, so I will leave it up to the legal experts to sort that out and talk about it, if they may.

The community of Thinadhoo echoes sentiments of the lonesome life that had been Ziyadha’s. The fact that it was the norm for people to approach her to relate stories of the exploitative lifestyle that had been her husband’s. Having married him against the wishes of Ziyadha’s own parents, Ziyadha suffered largely in silence. Her husband’s comfortable income had never materialized to alleviate the poor living conditions that Ziyadha had been subjected to. The alleged injuries had taken place according to sources when Ziyadha had gone to seek her husband on matters of textbooks and such required for the upcoming school year. Instead, she left this world, leaving her 3 children behind, bereft of a mother and a father who perhaps given the unjust system in place, might just walk away a free man.

Chronic Domestic Violence – Indicative of Total Abysmal System Failure

Ziyadha’s case carries with it the hallmarks of cases similar in nature. For a country that boasts of 97.3% in the ratio of female to male primary enrollment figures (as per World Bank’s data on Maldives for 2013), the lack of awareness afforded to the youth on certain issues stems from the incomplete education system in place. Certain “sensitive” issues are excluded from the education curriculum altogether because of fear of reprisals from the more conservative in the society.

Sex education, which is equated with students being exposed to pornographic elements in the eyes of those that believe it would only promote promiscuity, indicates the fact that they themselves lack the awareness so much so that that they miss the point by a mile when it comes to importance of inclusion sex education in the curriculum. It can be tailored to meet the needs of our society – doesn’t have to be the suite that the Western education system wears.

But one can only go that far by actually realizing and accepting the importance of such a subject in the curriculum at a particular point in time. Sex education is about advising on practicing safety, about the choices each of us have, especially females, and knowing how to identify when you are being exploited by someone you have to trust; all important factors towards creating awareness amongst youth of both sexes to promote the idea of respecting each others choices among other things.

One cannot talk on an issue of this nature without addressing the sheer failure of the Maldivian health system that is in place. We as Maldivians experience the total lack of adequate medical care and assistance in the country, so much so that it is common for families to go on medical “holidays” with all their savings in tow because we know that the entire system is a mockery to the people of the country. No government that has come and gone, including incumbent President Yameen’s administration has been able to tackle the wicked problem that is the Maldivian healthcare system. Ziyadha’s inability to secure the kind of treatment that was required for her injuries, apart from the fact that she waited too long without seeking treatment, is indicative of the lack in the healthcare as well.

Come to the point of law enforcement, I still keep questioning as to why they didn’t question Ziyadha when she would have been able tell her side of the story. Maybe I am missing something, but none of the details that have appeared in the news sources seem to indicate what happened between the time of her being admitted at the hospital and when she succumbed to the coma owing to a hemorrhage in her brain. Worried family members had indicated that they were not at all satisfied by the lackluster efforts being showed by the Maldivian Police Service in investigating the case further. Ziyadha’s family worry, and rightly so, that the husband might just walk away, unscathed.

Focusing on the executive, one sees the lack of political will on the part of the administration to tackle social issues of importance. Because solving issues as complex as that of prevalent abuse and establishing formal institutions in place that can work to thwart and address these issues, won’t show up as boldly on the Maldivian skyline as a bridge between Male’ and Hulhumale’ would. Nor would it garner the support of the “youth” that this administration “wins” every time they inaugurate a futsal pitch in a corner of some island somewhere.

The fact that “Gender” itself is an area that is shuffled and re-shuffled every time a cabinet reshuffle takes place is indicative of the failure of the administrative agencies in place to cater to this particular area. It is most often than not, areas that specifically deal with the marginalized and at risk members of the society that gets booted and placed under a “new” administration that more or less makes the same mistakes as the previous one.

The budget that trickles down to these areas are significantly lower when compared to those granted to independent institutions that aren’t responsible for providing social services as such. The abysmal failure of the administration lies in being unable to or not being interested enough to address and strengthen these key areas of the government that require adequate funding and robust management in order for them to be able to carry out their tasks in creating awareness and also their duties in relation to the prevention as well as addressing the needs of the victims of violence as discussed here.

One cannot forget the sheer atrocity that has become of our judiciary system when talking about abuse of this nature. Injustice leaks out of the very pores of the entire justice system; no one in their right minds would equate our courts as ones that are just and able. Stories of how women who seek to be divorced from their abusive husbands, who in turn are commanded by the esteemed judge to “try and work things out and return if not”, which means going back home with the abuser; are ones that are far too common for peace of the mind. Most of the time these women are dependent financially on the husband, and adding children to the mix makes the situation more precarious than for a single woman.

Fact that women get labeled as loose and immoral for talking about what goes on in their marriage, the violence they are subjected to which many believe should be part of upholding the sanctity of ones marriage, is a notion that has to be done away with. There is also the point where court officials are seldom discrete about what goes on in within the four walls of the court premises. The more juicy the “gossip”, the better these stories are to relate to friends, which then spreads like wildfire across the society, because ours is a close knit one. The chauvinism on blatant display when it comes to certain judges at these proceedings is another reason that the system fails to recognize and address the abuse these women are subjected to.

It is the failure of the legislature that the Evidence Bill remains collecting dust on one of the shelves at the Parliament House. Few, if seldom raise these issues, the government aligned members too busy trying to keep their proverbial balls from chafing against President Yameen’s swift reprisal that would come if they don’t dance to his tune. Meanwhile, the members of the “opposition” remain in a deadlock, unable to push through the issues that they deign to bring to the forefront, because the government aligned MPs reign majority over the Parliament and push back anything of importance to the people that might land in one of their committees.

Where do we go from here?

The UNFPA report of 2007 in its conclusion recommended 5 broad areas that needs addressing in order to tackle the issues at hand. Strengthening national commitment and action is the first and foremost, without which no governmental plan or action can achieve its intended objectives. This includes strengthening the management of the related institutions to providing adequate funding to carry out their activities, inadequate funding to these organizations which I have seen from experience happen far too often.

Promoting primary prevention which includes prioritizing prevention of child sexual abuse and equally importantly reaching out to men to change their behavior are key ares of prominence. This relates back to creating awareness which again means commitments and costs incurred by the government for these ventures. As much as it might seem to the elected officials that these funds would be better spent in building infrastructure, if the social fabric of the society lies in tatters when all is said and done, there would be little need for skyscrapers to show the glory that is Maldives.

Strengthening the health sector response is of course highlighted which also includes the very important aspect of enhancing the capacity of mental health care, an area that most wouldn’t touch because once again, it is a topic that is seldom talked about in the country.

Supporting women living with violence through formal institution through means of legal advice, counseling and medical care to informal support systems such as family and community networks are highlighted. While NGOs exist in the country that address issues specific to women, I hardly see anything materialize on the ground other than the usual marathon against violence or one color coordinated campaign or the other to mark the “occasions” as required. These merely make a blip on the peoples radars as they have become something of the norm. While the woman next door gets slapped for the umpteenth time by the husband she cowers in fear from, the guy next door walks in after the run that was supposed to be creating awareness and avenues of help for the neighbor suffering at the home adjacent.

Last, but not the least, strengthening the criminal justice response is indicated, which includes training and sensitization on violence against women for all involved in the criminal justice system. I wonder how well such a training would be received when quite recently, prior to the launch of the new penal code, Supreme Court actually barred judges from attending the training sessions held to create awareness on the incoming system. Such is the backwardness of those heading the system which makes one feel hopeless and helpless in the view of anything getting better.

Change; It Starts from Within

I believe, we, as the society have a far more crucial role to play. We are the ones who can rock the boat that the lawmakers stand on, the elected officials who promise us a trip to Mars and back, if we would just place that tick on the piece of paper that affords them a luxurious lifestyle for the succeeding 5 years. WE need to create avenues where we can question our elected members, push them towards achieving what WE want. We need to strategise ways to make even someone who is hard of hearing as our incumbent President know that we, the people, demand better from his administration.

WE need to believe in the change that we want to foster and bring. WE need to change our perspective and outlook on abuse and victims of abuse. WE need to let go of the notion that it is not our business, as long as it doesn’t happen to one of ours. WE need to empathize. WE need to care. Then only the change that WE clamor for will materialize, of course through tough years of hard work to get there.

Maldivian government needs to take preemptive measures before the next Ibthihal or Ziyadha makes the headlines. But with an administration that cares naught what the people think, the hope that remains is one that flickers out too often. I believe that it is WE, the people who can bring the change WE want. And it is WE, the people that need to take that first or even hundredth step for that matter, towards achieving the goal of creating a society that takes care of its vulnerable and affords them security, when they need it the most.

“We must unite. Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government.” – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

500 Days; #FindMoyameehaa

500 Days; Find Moyameehaa - Source: Twitter

500 Days; Find Moyameehaa – Source: Twitter

Never will I forget,
The shiver of apprehension that coursed through me
When news of Rilwan’s disappearance made headlines

Never did I believe,
That one of the kindest & bravest souls I know of
Would face a fate as this, 500 days of not knowing

Never did I think,
Negligence on part of the law enforcement that should serve and protect
Would be such blatant and belligerent in nature

Never will I unsee,
The sorrow etched deep, on the faces of Rilwan’s family & friends
Specially that of his mother, whose tears run unchecked, whose pleas have gone unheard, till today

Never would I be able to accept,
The callous disregard for human life
On the part of this government & its head of state

Never will I stop waiting & hoping,
For answers on Rilwan’s whereabouts
On what happened to him

Never will I stop asking to,
#FindMoyameehaa

My Friend, the Pathological Liar

PathoLiar

Source: Google Images – Quote Addicts

I’ve been meaning to write this article for sometime now. Contrary to the belief that some might hold over my blog being an avenue for just articles on local politics, I do write on other issues as well. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to write down my thoughts, other times, I’m just too lazy to give into the urge to write. But this article? Well, I wouldn’t want to NOT write this for anything.

Let me ask you this first. Have you ever encountered a pathological liar? Have you ever had the misfortune of inviting one into your life, your home, family and your inner circle of friends? Well, I have. If you think, whoa, you were dumb enough to do that, think again. Pathological liars don’t go around advertising the fact to people around them. Nor do they have it tattooed on their foreheads, which would truly be helpful. It can be really hard to identify one, especially if you are the type to trust people because you don’t go around lying about every single thing that is your life as part of your daily routine.

The Psychiatric Times defines a pathological liar to be one who has a “long history (maybe lifelong history) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.” Well let me tell you this. If you haven’t met one or cannot even comprehend the fact that one who fits into the mould might exist, think again. I’m here to tell you, it’s all true.

I’ll refer to this ex-friend of mine as Ms. B. We met when I was working at my first place of employment, between the years of 2006 and 2008. Ms. B seemed nice enough, with a tragic family history tossed into the mix that one would definitely empathize and sympathize with. At least I did. And so did many of my colleagues who till today are good friends of mine.

Since then, much time has passed. Through which Ms. B tended to pull off these disappearing acts where no one hears from her. Me and my circle of friends used to gang up to find out what had happened to her. Well, she does emerge after long periods of time have passed, and manages to convince us of the plights she has been through, which of course begins once again that circle of empathy and sympathy whereby which we usually do not look that closely at some of the gaping holes in her stories. Maybe some of it is true enough that she manages to stick to the same version of her story throughout, or maybe she is just that intelligent, which I believe her to be, in hindsight.

Through her years of attempted studying out of country and later on, I was one of the people that stood by her. Even when she fell out of touch and out of friendship with most of the ‘inner circle of friends’ that I talked about earlier, I stuck with her because I honestly thought that she was someone who deserved a little bit of a helping hand in her almost seemingly lonesome journey through life.

Then rolled in the year 2015, in which I found myself invited to a group in one of those numerous chat applications by a friend of mine. This group was initially a fun place to be in. We talked politics, we philosophized, we talked about marriage, life, depression and what not, and there were the occasional film critiquing conversations that got heated (haha) and in the midst of all that, we actually managed to have a good time. That was until Ms. B found her way into the group and I began to see her in a whole new light, and not a very flattering one at that.

It was as if, overnight, she had turned into this person that was a complete stranger. The whole group seemed to revolve around her or the stories that she cooked up. She was ‘friends’ or ‘acquaintances’ with anyone and everyone that members in the group mentioned in passing, her ‘association’ with the rich and lavish while she was studying was laugh worthy, her ‘escapades’ and ‘travel adventures’, most of which I found hard to believe were truly ‘fascinating’. It got to the point where I wanted to actually take her aside and talk it out, in the presence of a mutual friend of ours. But what happened next completely pushed that resolve out of my mind.

discipline

Source: Google Images

I began to find out that her ‘behavior’ was targeted towards myself, an attempt to draw me out, to find out whether I would rise to the bait. Well, I suppose she didn’t know me well enough if she thought that I would be willing to cross that line – especially for someone like her “true” self. I went through her Instagram pictures, this time with an eye out for the things I never would have thought to look for before, and lo and behold, most of the pictures that she claimed were ones she had taken while on trips abroad etc, were actually taken off of the Internet – her travel escapades, nothing but a huge figment of her imagination.

Then came the day all this came to heed. All the while her ‘behavior’ in the group kept on escalating, I knew deep in my heart that she’d have already told her version of the ‘sob story’ to those in the group who would sympathize with her. I don’t blame them. Because I’ve been one of the ‘victims’ of her lies myself. Believing the stories she told about people who had always had issues with her and made her life miserable. People who were all ‘evil’ to her such that she couldn’t put up with them.

So when this particular day rolled in, it had come to the point where I had begun to ask from her, inside the group, to show proof of whatever ‘great’ stories of her escapades she kept spinning. The one mistake she made was to tell this huge lie about going paragliding, a trip she supposedly took with friends of mine. Of course I contacted my friends to verify the truth, and it turns out the only things they did on that trip were to go jet skiing and horseback riding. Armed with my proof I sat, wondering what to do, and then there took place this stupid argument of sorts about who has dated whom – and suddenly her knight in shining armor arrived to her rescue, this being THE administrator of the group, the friend who invited me to the group in the first place, and admonished the rest of us to cool it and shut it down. I nearly walked away from that group that night, but I kept telling myself, if I left then, I’d only be doing exactly what she wants me to do.

It was tough going for a while. It was and is hard for me at times to put up with her when I know what she’s like. But, I’ve persevered and though I don’t hang around much in the said group, it is still a place where a bunch of good conversations take place every now and then and I believe like one of the group members expressed one day, we do have got a good thing going on in there.

I have refused to talk about this with anyone, apart from those that already knew of the problems or those who had seen right through the massive aura of bullshit that surrounds her. I knew that she would actually sell her version of the story to mutual friends of ours – and I wasn’t wrong. I knew that people who really knows me well, what I’m like and what lengths I would go to in order to keep a friendship alive wouldn’t believe the version of half-truths that would emerge out of her mouth.

One thing that made me want to write this down was the fact that she was badmouthing not just about me, but my sister, who has shown nothing but utmost courtesy to her and my friends – if they have ever visited my home and met her. I don’t mind Ms. B talking about me – I can take it. I know that those that would believe her version of the truth were never truly my friends in the first place. But to know that she had taken that step towards talking bad about my family? Well, that was the last straw for me.

Come today, she has blocked and removed me from all her social media accounts. We are both in the same group on the said chat application, from which she has individually blocked me – which I find helluva funny.

Moving on, the lesson to be learnt from all this was that, you never truly know a person well enough, even those closest to you. People can always surprise you, some in the worst of ways. I’ve felt antagonism on the part of some of the members in the group but I’ve paid no heed to any of it. Maybe that is just how I perceived it. Maybe not. But what goes around does come back around.

So the question remains, how do you identify one who is a pathological liar? Here are some pointers, which I would like to share with anyone whose interested.

1- These people, they study you well. Studies you thoroughly. Even studies the subjects they would talk about in a group of people so that they don’t come out sounding stupid enough for people to question them. I encountered this multiple times since I understood what my particular friend was up to. So be mindful of how much of yourself you divulge to particular people. The saying that not everyone who keeps you close is your friend is a true adage. Be cautious about whom you trust and invite into your life and that of your family’s. Otherwise you just might live to regret it.

2- Pathological liars lack empathy. Why? Because they are able to spin all these lies and keep you believing in them because they don’t feel any particular remorse over what they are doing. They will look you right in the eye and lie to you. Without blinking. Even once. Trust me on this.

3- Pathological liars don’t like being cornered. When someone is onto them, they can turn aggressive. Vicious even. The tables can turn so rapidly on you that you might feel bulldozed by the escalation of events that takes place. I experienced this. It wasn’t pretty. But it teaches you a lesson. These people are smart. Some of them, highly intelligent. Someone who is NOT intelligent cannot pull off so many multiple threads of lies, continued over periods of time. Take note. Don’t fall into that trap. Question them if you don’t think their stories add up. If you still feel in your gut that they are lying, they most probably are. Perhaps confrontation might be a choice if they haven’t already realized that you are onto them.

4- The most sneaky of the lot are manipulative. I’ve seen this, felt it, and even being manipulated by her. So yes, it is embarrassing to admit this perhaps, but I aim to learn from my mistakes and I intend it to be perhaps something others can also learn from. They can wrap you around their little finger, make you believe that everyone in the world is against them. You’d sympathize to the extent that you’d believe that the other person is pure shit. Yes, you would. Maintaining an objective front helps of course. But sometimes if you’re too close to the fire, you can’t help but be burned, just a little.

5- They can morph into people who seem to GET you on a level others don’t. I have heard so many “secrets” of other people’s lives through her, that she wouldn’t have been privy to, if people didn’t trust her on a level that would have warranted these “stories”. If you are the sort who is pious and love the religion, they will become one – just for you. And if you are one who don’t let boundaries as such define the way you live your life, well, they can be that too. Be wary. Be cautious. Not everyone who claims or acts like they are the most trustworthy of people are actually so.

6- And they lie, for absolutely NO REASON! Even now I cannot wrap my head around the fact, her need to lie, especially to people who meant her well. I guess that in essence defines what or who a pathological liar is.

The one thing that of course guided me, apart from what went on was the Almighty. Might sound corny to those who don’t believe. But this Ramazan, one of my supplications to Him was to show me those I can trust and whom I cannot. All whatever I have related, happened right afterwards. If ever there was a sign from above, well, that was it.

If any of you reads this and finds this ludicrous, do share your thoughts. I would love to hear why you think so. If you have encountered the same, do share that as well; that is if you’re comfortable doing so. Perhaps you can shed some more light on how we can avoid inviting pathological liars into our lives. For me, it’s years of friendship that I have lost. Boundless time I have wasted. On a person who didn’t deserve it, in the least. And I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
Criss Jami

#FindMoyameehaa

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The news of the disappearance of Ahmed Rizwan aka @moyameehaa as he is known on Twitter, hit me as if I’d been bitch slapped six ways till Sunday, real hard. Hard enough to make me reel from the impact. And looking at the outpouring of reaction from all corners of twitter occupied by Maldivians, I think it is pretty safe to say that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Rizwan wasn’t someone I knew personally. But looking back into our acquaintance, I’d say that the impact he made on my life was nevertheless a strong one. He was one of the first tweeps with a considerable amount of followers to follow me when the coup happened and I practically exploded onto twitter, wanting a place to vent out the deep anger and frustration in my soul. So I for one know Rizwan mostly as @moyameehaa, the tweep who always had something encouraging to say, even in the face of all that hatred, blatant hypocrisy and blame game being played out like nobody’s business.

I remember him as @moyameehaa, the guy who lifted up my spirits when one night I was feeling extremely low, of all the things something to do with an ‘Islamic’ viewpoint on the role of wives in a marriage. What he told me that night I still carry with me, and every time I feel the same way, I just bring to mind his sound advice, something I’d forever recall as long as I live.

For those who have been touched by his online presence alone, @moyameehaa is the one who favorites your random and the not so random tweets, has something boosting to throw your way always and joins in on the silliest of conversations and yet at the same time holds a vast depth of knowledge and foresight when it comes to Maldivian politics and its deteriorating societal fabric. He is an empathic, someone whom you know feels deeply about issues and has never stopped actively advocating for them.

And that is why today, I plead everyone and anyone who has information on his disappearance to come forward. He’s the one person I can say without lying or sounding presumptuous that he’d stand up for your rights, yours, yours and mine. If we lose him, we’ve lost one of the resounding voices that has never failed to say what must be said, especially when the going becomes tough and at times impossible. And it is truly a testament to his character that practically almost everyone whose lives he seems to have reached out and touched seems to passionately believe in the cause and are calling out to find him.

I send out a plea to the authorities; do what must be done, do your duty, do whats required of you by law and leave no stone unturned. Let this be the foundation via which we find our way back to placing our trust in you; let this not be for naught. For the man who advocates for freedom tirelessly, let’s fight just a little bit more to find him. Set your political ideologies and differences aside. Dear Maldivian Police Service, as the law enforcement, it is your duty to protect and serve and I’ve never seen the words ‘at our discretion’ written in fine print to go along with that. Live up to your oath and protect our rights. There can never be a more nobler profession than the ones you are a part of, done right.

Lastly, I pray from the depths of my soul that he is safe and sound. I pray that the Almighty gives him, his family and friends the strength to persevere and most of all I pray that he returns to us, with that smile on his face, to tell us more of the variety of #FerryTales that has entertained us through a lethargic day or three. I fervently hope that wherever you are dear @moyameehaa, that you’re happy, safe and of your own volition. I pray so because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking. I pray so because with you gone, we have lost a shining star, a beacon of hope that can never ever be replaced.

Please come back soon. X

Note: If you have any information pertaining to the investigation, please contact the police or Rizwan’s family on 7754566 or 9773250