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Christopher Pryde: Better Support For Rape Victims Needed

Christopher Pryde: Better Support For Rape Victims Needed
From right: Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde, Chief Justice Anthony Gates, and Head of Department Obstetrics and GynaecologyColonial War Memorial Hospital Dr James Fong at the Fiji Women Lawyers Association workshop in Suva on July 8, 2017. Photo: Arieta Vakasukawaqa
July 09
10:21 2017

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde says there is an urgent need to provide a better coordinated system of support for rape victims.

Mr Pryde said this would deal with perpetrators who continue to intimidate victims of rape in Fiji’s criminal justice system.

Mr Pryde suggested that perhaps a Social Welfare officer could maintain close contact throughout the period from the time of the complaint to the trial and even afterwards.

He made theses comments yesterday while speaking at the Fiji Women Lawyers Association workshop at the Tanoa Plaza in Suva.

Mr Pryde acknowledged that there were non-governmental and religious organisations committed in providing assistance in counselling.

However, he said it was somehow ad-hoc and lot of people fell through the gaps. He noted that neither the Police nor the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions provided much in the way of contact from the moment of arrest of the suspect to the trial.

Since the introduction of the Crimes Act in 2009, there was a spike in the number or rape cases.

This is because the definition of rape was extended, which included offences that would have been sexual assault previously.

The introduction of the ‘no drop policy’ in terms of complaints on sexual assault by Police also contributed to the increase.

Mr Pryde said the complaints were always dealt with in terms of criminal investigation and not in terms of a potential reconciliation.

Statistics also showed that the majority of rape and sexual assault cases in the country were committed by men against women in rural settings – at least one woman was raped by one man every day.

In cases of sexual assault in a domestic situation, Mr Pryde said any attempt at reconciliation was not accepted. This means that reconciliation couldn’t affect prosecution and not factors to be considered.

Another disturbing fact revealed in the statistics was the increase in rape offences report more prevalent in the iTaukei communities compared to others.

“Researches need to address these issues possibly to refocus or refine the message because it doesn’t appear to be getting to all communities equally,” he said.

The theme of the workshop was ‘Sex Crimes in Fiji: Prevention, Detection, Prosecution and Detection’.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: arieta.vakasukawaqa@fijisun.com.fj

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