NEWS

291 Rape Cases Top Crime Cases Pending In Court: Justice Temo

A call has gone out yet again for extra vigilance by all concerned about the crime of rape in Fiji. And High Court in Suva judge Justice Salesi Temo said
03 Dec 2017 11:37
291 Rape Cases Top Crime Cases Pending In Court: Justice Temo

A call has gone out yet again for extra vigilance by all concerned about the crime of rape in Fiji.

And High Court in Suva judge Justice Salesi Temo said these pending cases was taking up a lot of the justice system’s time.

“As of now there are 291 rape cases pending in the High Court of Fiji – the highest of any crime. More than two-thirds of our work is on processing these rape cases,” Justice Temo said.

Justice Temo was speaking at the Fiji Women Lawyers Association Workshop held at the Lautoka Hotel yesterday.

He said the expansion of the term and meaning of rape had contributed to the rise in the cases.

“Previously under the repealed Penal Code, the definition of ‘rape’ was limited to its traditional meaning, that is, a male having a penile vaginal sex with a female, without her consent, and he knew that it was not consenting at the time. It was a gender bias offence in that only males can be prosecuted for ‘raping’ a female,” he said.

“Now under the Crimes Act 2009, and with effect from 1 February 2010, the definition of rape, as an offence had been extended to include offences that were previously ‘indecent assaults’ under the Penal Code.

“It is also now ‘a gender neutral’ offence. In other words, under the Crimes Act 2009, a male as well as female can be charged for rape.”

Taboo needs to be addressed

He said the ‘taboo’ that is placed around the finer details of the rape is something that needs to be addressed in our cultures here in Fiji because this has led to many acquittals in court cases.

“Central to the crime of rape is the issue of penetration of something by something. In our society, this is a taboo area of discussion even in the family,” Justice Temo said.

“People are too shy to talk about it and find discussing it even disgusting. Even prosecuting and defence lawyers find it hard to examine these issues in the courtroom.

“However, in the courtroom, during trial, these are the very issues that are on examination. Shyness by the complainant or prosecuting counsel in properly examining these issues, can easily lead to an acquittal.”

Justice Temo also broke down the definition of rape.

“Rape now does not only include penile penetration of the vagina, it includes penile penetration of the anus, penile penetration of the mouth, penetration of the vagina or the anus by the finger or tongue or other objects.

“Of course, all the above actions must be done without the complainant’s consent, and the person knew the complainant was not consenting, at the material time,” Justice Temo said.

“You now know why the rape statistics had increased because of the extended definitions,” he said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  lusiana.banuve@fijisun.com.fj

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