Weekender

Rape cases on the rise

Written By : LUSIA VURUNA. Rape, however it could be described, is the worst crime that could ever be inflicted on a person. It destroys a person physically, mentally and
02 Jan 2009 12:00

Written By : LUSIA VURUNA. Rape, however it could be described, is the worst crime that could ever be inflicted on a person.
It destroys a person physically, mentally and emotionally and leaves behind a thoroughly broken spirit.
And sadly for girls and women in Fiji, the Fiji Police Force earlier this week reported a disturbing trend.
Reported rape cases in Fiji, this year alone, increased by an alarming 43 per cent according to police’s provisional statistics released recently.
What about unreported ones? What happens to victims too scared to turn to law enforcement authorities when they are abused? Well, sadly for them, statistics have shown perpetrators would continue to abuse them if they feel they can get away with it.
Rape has obviously infested our society once dubbed ‘the way the world should be’.
What hope do women and girls raped by their own close family member’s have?
A 22-year-old raped by her older brother, who was also a police officer. A woman raped by her own son. A 12-year-old gang raped by seven men. These are only three of the reported incidents of rape over last year.
And a recent report highlighted by the Fiji Sun on Wednesday, earlier this week about a man sentenced to 10years in prison for raping his 12-year-old step-daughter has prompted government’s reaction.
Minister for Education, Youth and Sports Filipe Bole vehemently condemned the incident and said it was saddening to see that victims, especially young girls, were being raped in places that should have been a safe haven for them.
He said the trauma inflicted on the innocent victims was too great a price to pay.
“The reported incident [such as that highlighted in the Fiji Sun today], of a step father raping his 12 year-old daughter, is of grave concern to the Ministry of Education.
“The price is far too high on the victim and the perpetrator as well. One cannot put a price on the harmful and lifelong effects of rape on the victim.”
He called on the community to view these incidents with a serious attitude.
“Just two days ago police recorded an increase in rape reports. Compared to the same period last year there has been a staggering increase of 43% of reported cases.
One hundred and twenty five rape cases were recorded last year but this year, reported cases went up to one hundred and seventy nine.
“This is a clear indication of the seriousness with which members of the public and communities, neighbourhoods and villages should view this offence.”
Mr Bole said what was most scary about rape was that perpetrators were usually known and close relatives of the victims
As such, he said any suspicious illicit or unpleasant behavior by anyone should be reported to someone else or to police.
“Any sign of illicit suspicious behaviour should be reported either to another person and/ or to the police.
“It is most unfortunate, that in many rape cases, the rapist is usually a person closely related to the victim.
“While relatives are supposed to be the most trusted people, unfortunately, the large numbers of rape cases, shows that young girls will now have to view some of their own male relatives with a measure of suspicion.”
He also said dialogue and communication within the family or community to address the issue could divert the threat rape posed to our women.
“Continual dialogue should be encouraged not only at home but in churches and within the extended family and in the community. This can be a weapon to discourage or curb sexual abuse.
“The same dialogue can be extended to address the issue of sex, sexual abuse and sex related issues. The culture of silence on sex related topics can be a reason to fuel the growth of this offence.”
Mr Bole said the ministry was urging parents and other members of society to seriously address this ‘evil’.
“The Ministry of Education earnestly seeks the co-operation of parents and the society as a whole to play an active role in combating this evil. The Ministry is determined and duty bound to curtail this heinous act on our children.
“All children have the fundamental right to a safe upbringing, good education and protection from harm. Homes and schools are supposed to provide these havens. Indeed, every one of us should be accountable for the preservation of the dignity of all our children.”
What is contributing to the alarming increase in reported rape cases?
Women’s activist and Fiji Women’s Crisis Center coordinator Shamima Ali, although she says her theories were still being tested with continuing research by the center, feels they were on the right track of identifying the causes of rape increase in Fiji.
“Many factors could have contributed to the recorded increase in these cases. It could be that women were becoming more aware of their rights and police officers attitudes towards rape victims were changing.
“Initially women abused would have been too scared of being blamed for the incident to report it to authorities. They were treated in a way that implied that the incident was partly their fault.”
Ms Ali also said the increase in reported cases could simply be because rapes were increasing.
And she said the increasing availability of pornographic materials, especially movie discs, was a contributing factor.
“Perpetrators and potential perpetrators get to watch violent pornographic materials and think they can do such things too. These movies show horrible violence being done on women.
“These types of materials are easily available to every sick person out there.”
Ms Ali also said the increased militarization of the government was manifesting itself on our society.
“The increased militarization of our government has lent a feeling of increased ‘machoism’ among men where they think they can take and do anything forcefully and it would be right.
This manifests itself in violent actions such as rapes.”



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