'The state failed to care for Shaim properly', admits minister

Gender Minister Shidhatha Shareef late Wednesday admitted that both the Gender Ministry and the Childrens' orphanage in Villimale' 'Kudakudhinge Hiyaa' had failed to properly care for missing child, Sham Abdulla (14) who was under state-care before his disappearance.

Shaim disappeared while under state care on June 20th. Gender Ministry and Minister Shidatha were highly criticized for the government's failure to disclose the details of his disappearance. Six days after the boy went missing, Minister Shidatha spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday evening.

Speaking to the media, Minister Shidhatha noted that the 'Hiyaa' orphanage was not equipped with the resources to handle a child of Shaim's 'nature', who grew up in criminal environment. She also admitted that both the ministry and the orphanage had been negligent in handling the missing child.

Shaim went missing while he was undergoing an assessment at the Villimale' childrens' orphanage after he 'fled' the facility. Although a missing persons case was filed after his disappearance, it was not disclosed that the boy was under state care at the time of the incident.

However, the information came to light when a court order issued by the Juvenile court to locate the boy was leaked on social media, which mentioned that the boy was at the orphanage at the time of disappearance,

The first comments regarding the case were made by both the police and Gender Ministry after the authorities were bombarded with questions from the media following the new information.

At Wednesday's press conference at SHE building, Minister Shidhatha said Hiyaa is not equipped to handle children like Shaim who have behavioral issues, and said the staff at the orphanage have not been trained to handle such cases. However, it is not an excuse for the events that have taken place, admitted Shidatha.

She further said there were delays in disclosing the details of Shaim's disappearance as the boys safety was taken into consideration due to the nature of the case. However, the ministry will no longer withhold information on the case, assured the minister.

How did Shaim disappear?

Minister said the staff at the orphanage checked on Shaim thrice while he was sleeping the night before his disappearance, who had then reported that the boy was in bed. However, Shaim normally slept with a blanket covering his whole body including his face. therefore, the staff who checked on him are now unsure if the boy was actually present at the time.

The minister said in investigations that followed the boy's disappearance, it was discovered that the window panes of the room adjacent to where Shim was sleeping in had been removed for renovation. There is probable chance that the boy climbed up to the roof of the building after making his escape through the window, speculated Shidhatha. However, the minister did not confirm whether Shaim made his escape in this manner due to the ongoing investigation.

Why was Shaim described as a 'boy of his nature'?

Shidhath revealed that a case involving Shaim was first brought to the notice of the ministry in a child neglect case ten years ago on 10th June 2009.

As his home environment was not fit for a child, he was removed from his home and taken under state care on October 25th, 2015. Two days later, on 27th October 2015, a request was made by an individual volunteering to foster the boy. All proceedings were finalized and on January 11, 2016 he was taken under the care of his foster parent.

However, the ministry began receiving complaints regarding Shaim during 2017, which included failure to attend school consistently and complaints of the boy spending most of his time outside of home. This February, a case conference was also conducted with Education Ministry regarding Shaim.

After he did not return home this April, the fact that he was living in criminal environments was informed by his foster parent numerous times to the Gender Ministry, with the foster expressing wishes that he can no longer house Shaim and take responsibility for him due to his behavior.

The police was requested thrice to find an address for where Shaim was residing at the time. Shaim was then located on June 3rd and handed over to Family and Child Protection department of Gender Ministry on 4th June. When no family took on the responsibility of looking after the child, he was taken to Vilimale' orphanage from where he subsequently ran away.

"Due to the current condition of the orphanage, it was not suitable to mix Shaim with other children at the orphanage. Therefore, we made arrangements to keep Shaim separate from other kids. There were several issues even when he was at the orphanage, including behavioral problems, damaging property and assault", said Shidatha.

Seven days have passed since the boy's disappearance, however he has not been located thus far.