Unity Against Gender-Based Violence Key:Qiliho
As we are into the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign, it is my sincere hope that we will continue to seriously look at how we can work together to effectively address gender based violence.
The policing and eradication of violence against women and girls, or children cannot be left solely to the Fiji Police Force and other Government departments, but should be addressed by every Fijian.
I have often stated that we are the last line of defence because we are only alerted of the offence once the crime has been committed.
More often than not these crimes are happening within the four walls that should be a safe place for the victims, their very own homes.
This is why we need to work together because there are institutions within our society that will have more frequent access to an individual’s personal life then the Police or Government department will ever have.
I was therefore extremely pleased to hear of the “Break the Silence” day commemorated throughout various religious organisations on the 20th of November, and as we enter into the 16 days of activism I am again pleading with members of the community to take a similar stand and say no to violence against women and girls.
While we have managed to record a decrease in overall crimes against women and children for the period from January to October this year, it does not however take away the unfortunate reality that the offences continue to be recorded.
The period of January to October 2016 recorded a 2.5 per cent decrease in overall crimes against women and 0.1 per cent decrease in crimes against children.
Further analysis while showing a 14 per cent decrease in sexual offences reports against women when compared to the same period last year, the same however cannot be said for assault offences against women whereby a 17 per cent increase was recorded.
The prevalent offences common in crime against women are rape, indecent assault, murder, assault causing actual bodily harm and common assault offences. Young women (18-31 year olds) are more likely to be victims of sexual and assault related crimes.
On an equally disturbing note, crimes against children continue to be recorded and again it begs the question as to why are we letting our guard down and allowing innocent children to become victims of crime.
For the crime against children, the year 2016 (Jan-Oct) recorded 1041 cases; this is a 0.1 per cent decrease compared to 2015 with 1042 cases.
Female victims aged between 13 and 17 make up 41 per cent of the total rape cases reported during the period from January to October 2016. Those in this age group are mostly victims of rape, defilement, abduction and assault causing actual bodily harm, while the males are mostly victims of assault offences.
Even though, there has been a decrease in the overall crimes against children, there are some offences that have recorded an increase from 2015 and 2016, and these include assault causing actual bodily harm and rape.
The reduction in the crimes against women and children however will never truly reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground because there are many incidents that remain unreported.
As I have often stated, one case is all it takes to get our attention as these are moral crimes that are hitting everyone’s inner being and as I vowed on the day I took up office as your Commissioner of Police, I will do all I can and work with every willing party to address crimes against women and children.
We cannot sit by and allow our women and children to become victims of immoral crimes that are being committed in most cases by those who are supposed to be protecting them.
I call on civil society and religious organisations to help us eradicate these crimes and ensure our women and children are able to live a life free of victimisation and fear.
I also call on every Fijian to help protect our women and children and call us if they are aware of similar crimes being committed in their communities.
Please do not look the other way or ignore the plight of our women and children. If you will not speak for our children, then who will?
Who will protect them if the very ones that are supposed to are the ones preying on them?
The Fiji Police Force continues to do all it can to address gender based violence and I urge those who are not happy with the way my officers deal with gender based violence cases to call any of my senior officers or your respective Divisional Police Commanders.
Let us not wait only for the 25th of November annually to speak about gender based violence, let us make it a part of our lives to care about violence inflicted on our women and children ever single day!