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Fiji Sun

Opinion, Opinion

Rise In Rape Cases: We Have Lost Moral Values

Rise In Rape Cases: We Have Lost Moral Values
March 04
11:00 2017


Ask any outsider about Fiji, they will without any doubt say Fiji is beautiful, and people are indeed friendly. Some will say that the small Pacific Is­land is where time stops and ‘we are on Fiji time’.

However, the perception of local people is different. The youth and older generation are confronted with numerous challenges. Some of which includes: unemployment, increased poverty, health and well­being, and trying to live in a peace­ful environment.

It is true that generational change is resulting in some of the alarming social issues. One such alarming social issue is the increased rape cases. Linking to this increased phenomenon amongst citizens, is increased consumption of kava, al­cohol and drugs.

It is worth noting that most of the rape cases are happening in region­al communities in villages. In these locations people have basic educa­tion attainment, zero employment with huge reliance on farming.

A new trend that is emerging in these communities is increased consumption of kava amongst young women.

Many rape cases are reported and perpetrators are punished though legal systems. In many instances, large number of cases are not re­ported. In our society, some parents or victims are afraid to report mat­ters to the Police.

Some are not confident with the legal system and the process in­volved, and many others are con­fronted with traditional beliefs and values. Whilst the society believes that the perpetrators should be punished, the victims are confront­ed with lack of societal support.

Rather than supporting the vic­tims to rise and become strong, we are in fact blaming the victims with day to day blame, gossip, and scare­mongering.

The victims are threatened, abused, harassed, and in some in­stances key leaders within the com­munity find them weak and further abuse is experienced.

In our society, we disadvantage the victims in many ways. We fail to support and educate victims, we fail to provide better health and wellbeing, and we fail to develop victims to become change agents through various capacity building initiatives.

Various stakeholders are consist­ently failing in this matter. Taking a bottom up approach, individuals in the community are failing to up­hold moral standards.

Youths are raping women who are from the same community and in some way related to each other. The long tradition of leading author­ity in the village such as ‘turaga ni koro’ are also failing their respon­sibility. Such roles have played an active part in improving social co­hesion, and strengthening commu­nity wellbeing.

Remote settlements in both iTaukei and Indian community have traditionally been very ac­tive in practicing religion. There­fore, religious leaders in regional communities have traditionally played a significant role in educa­tion, preaching, and building peace within the community.

The religious leaders have been strong advocates against violence, use of drugs and alcohol and other local issues. Unfortunately, reli­gious leaders irrespective of the religion are failing in their role to build peaceful communities. Gov­ernments and their agencies are also failing their responsibilities.

While perpetrators are sentenced, the root cause of the problem and sustainable solution is yet to be im­plemented. The Police is failing to patrol in regional communities to raise the awareness of their exist­ence at local level.

The Government is well resourced to provide capacity for new initia­tives; however genuine effort is yet to be seen. I have always argued that education is the solution to all social and economic challenges.

The Government through its vari­ous agencies need to take a collab­orative approach in tackling the alarming issue.

Collaboration between the Police, health, social welfare and non-gov­ernment organisations is needed. Targeted education programmes and monitoring community behav­iour is key to combat rape cases.

Victims need to be identified and relevant education needs to be pro­vided so that they are in workforce with the capacity to change their own lives.

Through education and employ­ment, the victims will become ac­tive change agents.

The current problem is attributed to individuals in the community and the leaders. There is strong evidence to suggest that majority of people are drifting away from religion.

Therefore, the criterion of what is good and bad has significantly changed. The older generation can attest my view based on how com­munities were peaceful before com­pared to the current time.

Only human efforts cannot bring any good results – the Government needs to do more to ensure zero cas­es and victims need to be genuinely supported through education, and employment initiatives.

Mahsood Shah is an associate profes­sor and deputy dean of the faculty of business and law at CQ University, Australia. The views in this article are his own and not the University.



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