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Objectional Photos Uproar

Objectional Photos  Uproar
Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa
April 25
12:47 2018

There is uproar from the authorities, from a Cabinet minister, the Director of Fiji Human Rights Commission, NGOs and Police, about the sharing of nude pictures cir­culated recently on social media.

The pictures show a female student from a prominent school in the Central Divi­sion naked from the waist down and lying on a grassy patch. Two other pictures show the same girl hugging a bare-chested male.

Outraged by the news, the Minister for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Allevia­tion, Mereseini Vuniwaqa said: “This is the very mis­chief that the Online Safety

Bill 2018 aims to address and the reason why it is so critical that it is brought into law.

“It also brings to the fore the need to educate our children about the basic tenets of trust, honesty, de­cency and respect for one another.”

The nude pictures surfaced on the Facebook Messenger App two weeks ago and they continue to be circulated on Facebook by people who were posting comments.

Under the Crimes Decree, porno­graphic material is referred to as obscene matter and any distribu­tion is illegal.

It further states: “If you store any adult or pornography materials on your computer or any portable drives and if you share that then it becomes an additional criminal of­fence and if you use it to gain profit or solicit further income then it be­comes a criminal offence under the crimes decree in Fiji.”

Ashwin Raj, the director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Dis­crimination Commission said the circulation of these nude images “…attests to the significance of urgently passing the Online Safety Bill, which is before the Justice, Law and Human Rights Standing Committee into an Act of Parlia­ment because the Bill sets out a mechanism in place to seek rem­edy for those who are vulnerable and susceptible to abuse and bully­ing on social media, including our women and children.

It is not only a morally repugnant act that is an assault on the dignity and a breach of the right to privacy, but a crimi­nal act. This must not be confused with arguments about censorship and suppression of freedom of ex­pression.”

The Director of the Fiji Police Force’s Criminal Investigation De­partment (CID), Senior Superinten­dent Mesake Waqa, said they were now proceeding with the investiga­tion.

“We are running on the line of rape as alleged by the victim her­self. And alleged defilement be­cause she is 14 years old,” SSP Waqa said.

Shamima Ali, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator, said there was too much of this happening.

“Young women should not trust anyone because when these things happen, women get blamed for it,” Ms Ali said. “I think this has more to do with those people who put up these photos. We need to look at who are these people and we need to have them brought to task.

“Women and young women should never to get in a position where someone can take your pictures be­cause you just can’t trust anyone.”

Police Director of Operations Act­ing Assistant Commissioner of Po­lice Maretino Qiolevu is calling on parents and the general public to be “more responsible and matured”.

“If anyone is seen and proven to be doing this, we will take the cul­prit to justice,” AACP Qiolevu said.

“To the parents, we have a very big responsibility in monitoring what our children are doing with their telephones and the internet.

“We need to be talking to them and advising them because when some­thing like this happens it brings shame to the family.”

Minister Vuniwaqa believes pa­rental guidance and support was now critical at this time for both parties.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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