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In Search Of Sanctuary

August 29, 2020

Dear reader, 

 

 

I am struggling for words and I am hoping for a miracle to help me get through this. It is becoming increasingly difficult and I feel overwhelmed having bitten off more than I can chew. I always knew there were going to be challenges yet I was never prepared for anything like this. When I left the Maldives, I was in search of a safe haven to do my work from and when I arrived in the UK, I could not care less about what we needed to do. All I wanted was to have a normal life for a change and do things I missed out on when I was young. We were not able to be ourselves at home and this kept making us vulnerable. 

 

 

I wish there was an easy way for me to explain this yet there is not much I can say without endangering myself even more. I am back where I started completing a full circle and I feel exhausted with my health deteriorating the more I walk down this path. However, in some ways I feel as light as a feather now and like my work is done because I did everything I could. It has been an emotional roller coaster with many ups and downs. From a very young age, I had become aware of so many obstacles that had to be overcome and to discover even more has been crippling. 

 

 

For the past several years I have been living in the UK, and although I can go on forever talking of the good things, there are people there who work tirelessly to keep us out of the picture. I was loved, admired and made to feel so very welcome by many people resulting in me being the cause of much envy and I eventually ran into trouble. Despite being in an abusive relationship with a partner who had entrapped me... I was so happy in many ways and kept much of my identity a secret while those who were jealous tried to find a way to bring me down. They found out that talking of work around me at the events where my dancing had become an attraction would throw me off, with no understanding of why it had this effect. They may have had the impression that I was not employed because my social media still said that I was working as an Island Host for Kuredu in the Maldives. I was working for my partner’s company and the Game warehouse during holiday seasons yet I could not update my work details because there were secrets I had to keep from people at home. The envious literally began to use the word 'work' around me like a mantra, they thought they had me figured out yet they did not know a thing about me. Even my sister learned of this when we went dancing together and it followed me home. She knew why it upsets me... She was no stranger to the hurdles in front of us and my involvement fighting for our cause. A cause that had already gotten a few of my friends into trouble, leaving them wanted by the Maldivian police and unable to return home safely.  

 

 

The Maldives Police Service issued summons to three activists living abroad with the threat of trials in absentia not too long ago, and all of them were people I had worked closely with. Muju Naeem who is a friend and the administrator of the Secular Democratic Maldives community ( https://www.facebook.com/SecularMvPage/ ) was one of them. I had contributed to the community as a moderator when it was very popular and I may have been left alone because I was always neutral, remained cautious and was more respectful towards Islamic culture to garner public support. Separately, the admin of Rainbow Maldives (  https://www.facebook.com/groups/216274425162943  ), Munaam Naeem AKA Medulla Oblongata who is the most popular LGBTQA figure in the Maldives also ran into trouble and even though the controversial group has an eden within banner, I was spared. It was a miracle that I survived while everyone ran into difficulty and my sister was aware that I was always at risk. This did not stop her from joining hands with those who did not know who I was or what we did, because she stood to benefit if I was to become a fugitive who could not inherit our family home. 

 

 

Only a couple of people in the UK dance community knew I was an artist and I could even say that no one knew. I had become popular as a dancer who could entrance people with no effort as I danced the night away at raves or small intimate nightclubs where I inadvertently became the center. I was often on my own, with girl friends or friends that were the same age as me and never with my partner or any one I might find attractive. I was respected and looked after by everyone and was known as a personality who only had eyes for the DJ and as someone who was there just to dance once every couple of months. I was often admired till I felt embarrassed and was often left feeling like a performer with an audience. The envious persisted with their bullying, forcing me to break cover and I began interacting with people online in the dance community as ‘Women’s Rights Maldives’. I did this so people would understand why the talk of work while out dancing would spoil the mood for someone like myself. Shortly afterwards, the community became invisible and could only be seen by myself. I was only able to interact with a few people as ‘Women’s Rights Maldives’ before we lost our community page that had been a much needed presence since 2011. Profiles promoting our cause with the help of regional art soon followed and so did my personal profile. Leaving no trace of who I was to try and make it look like I was uncomfortable with the talk of work for a myriad of other reasons that were in favor of their wishful thinking.  

 

 

Women’s Rights Maldives was a meeting place for those passionate about gender equality. Considering the population of the country, we were a popular community and was regarded by some as the leading feminist group in the Maldives. It was the only one of its kind and we assisted registered non-government organizations in promoting their content, workshops, seminars and events. We shared motivational content from feminist groups all over the world while remaining sensitive to local customs and traditions and also generated our own material with the help of our followers. We encouraged discussion on issues that tend to be swept under the rug and always sought public opinion when posting content, resulting in an atmosphere of healthy public debate. As an anonymous community, we were able to make statements registered NGOs were struggling with. Our aim was to ultimately get the Maldives Police service to implement DNA testing and evidence gathering as standard procedure for women and girls seeking help. Losing our community and my online identity was devastating. 

 

 

I was stunned by what had happened as I was simply not expecting it. My mental health has suffered greatly because of people trying to find fault with me and finding things that are not there. All of this bullying that had escalated because of something that was not there which ultimately ended with me losing most of my work has been a tragedy. People are trying to make me out to be someone I am not... They refuse to acknowledge me for who I am and to cover up who I really am I have had everything done to me. From attacks engineered to make the design of my website look unprofessional to attacks that had left my art looking substandard and even viruses on my pc designed to make me look like someone I am not. I am beyond heartbroken having experienced this much cruelty not just from the attackers but from the general public as well. 

 

 

As a representative of the women and girls, I swallowed my pride and reached out for help yet as of today, lady luck has not been by my side. My mental health continues to take turns for the worse as I try to understand how the system works, why no one has tried lending us a hand and what it takes to get help. I fear that people are looking down on me from the luxury of their well protected homes and being critical of me when I was not sure what to do in order protect myself. My arts came under attack because it was good or it would not have happened and to continue, leave alone improve in the face of malicious threats had left me a nervous wreck. The attackers have not spared anything and I am left thinking of all the rich men and women who could help but till this day I have not heard from, even when the attacks benefit them like it or not, and even when I am in grave danger because of their desire to be at peace with the injustices people like us are made to suffer. I hold no ill feeling towards those I fight for as any injury I suffer is a loss to all of us. I regret having said that I am dismayed by the leadership on both sides earlier because I needed to elaborate further. The leaders on both sides that I spoke of are Caucasian and I am extremely disheartened by their lack of concern in the face of such injustice and cruelty dealt to people like myself. I am also puzzled by the attackers attempts at making non Caucasian leaders appear absent when they cannot really help. When their presence can only make the situation worse in many ways and while I remain adamant that only those who benefit from these cruel attacks can make a positive difference. I hope and pray they will help get our movement up and running again by supporting my art that will allow me to do this securely. Help me establish a stronghold, a sanctuary that will be a living breathing work of art for the sole purpose of changing preconceived ideas about Islamic arts, dance and culture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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