Stop sex assault now, PM warns

By LOSALINI RASOSOQO Reporting from Kadavu Stop this sexual assault on our women, girls and children, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has pleaded. Officiating at the opening of the Tavuki
13 Feb 2014 09:45
Sexual assault

Sexual assault

Reporting from Kadavu

Stop this sexual assault on our women, girls and children, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has pleaded.
Officiating at the opening of the Tavuki Women’s Resource Centre in Kadavu yesterday, Commodore Bainimarama said: “I’ve just been given some alarming figures about the level of sexual assault in Fiji.
It is shocking and it cannot be allowed to continue.” (See details at right) He described the figures revealed to him as a national disgrace and something that should shame every Fijian.
“Government knows the problem is bad but not this bad. It has to stop.”
“If anyone hits or mistreats a woman in any way, they had better watch out. The Government is going to come down on them very hard and they are going to feel the full force of the law.”
He said the days of any lenient attitude to raping, demeaning, mistreating and exploiting women were over. He has issued instructions to the Fiji Police Force that they must adopt a policy of zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women and children.

Equal opportunity
He said they could not keep talking about equal opportunity for everyone and a new and better Fiji if we tolerated our women being abused.
Every woman and girl, he said, deserved to feel safe, to be respected and to be protected.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to those communities in Fiji who had embraced the Government’s campaign to eradicate domestic violence.
“You are leading by example and will get every support from me and the rest of the Government.
But the rest of the country needs to fall in line,” he said.

Weak men beat women
Men, he said, needed an urgent revolution in the attitude towards women.
“For too long, some Fijian men have seen their women as possessions to be used as they please. For too long, some of these men think that rape is something they can get away with. Sexually assaulting children is something they can get away with. And for too long, many more have used the slap, the punch or the beating as means to control their women. Some people even make jokes about it – that someone or other deserves a slap. It is no joke. It is not funny. It is a national embarrassment and it has to stop.”
The Prime Minister said real men don’t rape women or sexually abuse children. Real men don’t beat women. Weak men beat women.

Appeal to all Fijian males
The Prime Minister has appealed to every Fijian male to be a man.
“Treat women properly. Treasure them. Protect them. They are the heart of the family, the backbone of our communities. They are our partners. They are just as important as men.”
Men, he said, should set an example to their children and treat them in the way they deserve to be treated, the way they must be treated.
“The same goes for our children. We should be deeply ashamed as a nation that there are 262 child sexual assault cases currently before our courts.”

Govt leads
Government, he said, had led the battle against discrimination by introducing a raft of new laws to promote gender equality. “We introduced the first domestic violence laws in Fiji’s history. We have strengthened the rights of women who live in defacto relationships.”
They have removed the old Victorian rules for corroboration of rape. Fiji’s criminal laws are now modern and gender neutral and we have worked hard to modernise all our laws to make sure they reflect equality between men and women.

Centre to benefit women
The new Tavuki centre will empower the women economically. They will learn new skills, new ways of doing things.
The Prime mInister said they will receive income that will improve their lives and the lives of their families. And in doing so, they will get a measure of independence and a great deal of satisfaction.


n 739 (pending) case of sexual assault before the courts (including  Supreme and Court of Appeal)
n Out of the 739 cases 477 are cases of sexual assault against people over the age of 13
n Another 262 cases involve child sexual assault
n Majority of these cases are assaults on females – women and girls.

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