Unlike a few peaceful years back, the streets in Male’ are not safe anymore. Robberies, pickpockets and criminals roam the streets of Male’ abound and nobody seems to know how to deal with them. Famously the last defence minister of the government in the previous administration is said to have said that “such things can be only stopped by the people who do that… ” (not verbatim). Clearly the minister was not aware of his responsibility or the resources entrusted to him to address that very issue. That being politics we the resort workers have our issues with this and its worthwhile giving a little thought to this matter.
At the start of every month, hundreds of resort workers from various resorts frequent Male’ to send monies home or to find long lost friends or to do some much needed shopping the few resources in the resort staff shop could not provide for etc. Most of the Indians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshi as well as locals make this journey to Male and frequently so at the beginning of the month. To receive them at Male “Paatey”s (local name for thugs) roam the streets of Male’ hoping to prey on the vulnerable and ill prepared. Nobody is safe from their designs and at a point in time in the recent past even tourists were attacked which thankfully is still very rare in this country so dependent on tourist income.
To help us the resort workers, a few no-nonsense street advice is in order:
1) Make sure you know exactly where you are going and plan how best to get there before you leave. That is if you are not on sight seeing mode.
2) Don’t be alone. The chance of a loner being attacked is greater than someone in a group. So try to have company if possible.
3) Stick to main roads and avoid narrow roads and unfamiliar alleys.
4) Don’t respond to strangers requests or calls. Sometimes Paatey’s use female counterparts to lure resort boys to houses and then ‘ravish’ (for lack of better word) them.
5) Don’t hesitate to initiate a fight if you think you can get away with it. Most Paatey’s are high on drugs and could be struck off balance easily. No if he has got company. However this option is not for expats as an expat defending himself from an attacking paatey could be viewed as brawl between a local and a ‘foreigner’ and all sorts of troubles could follow.
6) Don’t argue with a Paatey. The more you talk the more they know and the more time they buy.
7) If a police officer is nearby seek his or her help. They are very aware of these issues and always ready to help.
8) Wear casual clothes when visiting Male’. Maldivians are generally very low key people.
9) Do not stuff your pockets bulging with expensive phones, ipods etc… most paatey’s train their eyes on those things.
10) Always have your phon’e imei number written somewhere safe in the case a Paatey does indeed snatches your phone, the authorities can be in formed and the phone made inoperable in Maldives.
11) Never accept a lift from someone you don’t know.
12) If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, cross the street and find somewhere safe to get help.
13) If you feel threatened, shout ‘fire’, rather than ‘help’ as people are more likely to respond. The local word for fire is “alifaan” and if shouting to draw attention then say “alifaanoi”.
14) Don’t be tempted to carry a weapon for protection as this just increases your chances of getting seriously hurt. A personal alarm is a much safer thing to carry.
Measures to counter this problem
Male’ is not a very big city and if the Male’ police still cannot control their city then they are indeed not worth their salt. However, we the resort workers also have our bit of responsibility to attend to which is to bring these matters to the attention of the public offices and the big businesses and to work for results.
Some measures might be:
Since our law makers in the Majlis has not yet finished with writing the Book of Laws, we could ask our Majlis members to draft laws with harsher punishments for robbers, burglars, thieves and the like… A Paatey caught with a resort boy’s wallet full of cash and if the law requires him to pay ten times the value of whatever was in the wallet, then it shall be a good detterent. Law of equality shall not be quoted here. We are not in insurance business and paatey’s has to be subdued!
In some parts of the world employers do offer various trainings to their staff some of which includes martial arts or self defense courses. So in those few resorts where the managements might listen to such a proposition we the staff shall suggest ideas like this and hopefully they might listen.