NEWS

770 Victims of Sexual Offence In Past Three Years, Six Months: Judge

Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj said there were 770 reported matters but believes there are numerous incidences of sexual violence that go unreported.
08 Feb 2019 16:18
770 Victims of Sexual Offence In Past Three Years, Six Months: Judge
The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj.

A high court judge has revealed that there have been 770 victims of sexual offences cases from mid-2015 to end of last year.
Justice Riyaz Hamza of the High Court in Suva yesterday revealed that during the stated period, 508 victims of sexual offences cases were under the age of 18, while 263 victims were under the age of 13.

Sentencing comments

He made the comment on Tuesday while sentencing a 28-year-old man who had raped his nephew who was 10 years old at the time of the offence.

The accused was jailed for 18 years and six months.
Justice Hamza told the court that 102 victims of sexual offences cases were under the age of eight, while victims under the age of five were 50.

Furthermore, the statistics compiled by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) stated that there were a total of 1589 cases of sexual offences recorded from mid-2015 till December, 2018.
Justice Hamza said: “According to the statistics released by the ODPP, it appears that a number of rape victims as well as victims under the age of 18 years and victims in domestic relationships or relatives were also victims of other serious sexual offences.

“The rape of children is a very serious offence and it is very frequent and prevalent in Fiji. The courts must impose harsh penalties dictated by the legislation. The courts should not leniently look at this kind of serious cases of rape of children of tender years when punishing the offenders,” Justice Hamza said.

Fijians urged to stop the vicious cycle of rape: Raj

Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj said there were 770 reported matters but believes there are numerous incidences of sexual violence that go unreported.

He said the soaring rate of sexual and gender based violence must prick our conscience as a nation.
“If 770 are reported cases, imagine the numerous incidences of sexual violence that go unreported? These include women and our children who are in a situation of powerlessness and vulnerability.

“The perpetrators are often people in positions of trust- brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, priests, teachers, and employers amongst others.”
He also asked for Fijians to look at the exorbitant costs to the justice sector, the education sector when our children do not realise their full potential, the health sector, the employment sector and the economy as a whole.

Women’s group voice concerns

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) co-ordinator Shamima Ali said it with anger, at how badly our men are behaving and also at the lack of support services for survivors.

“Over the last five months, a partnership has been established with the ODPPs office whereby we are assisting with supporting survivors through counselling and providing victim impact statements for court cases and our counsellors receiving professional training. We are sensitising our staff. FWCC has its own walk in and phone clients that we have provided support to.
“We also need to be all on the same page recognising the gendered nature of this crime and getting men on board as partners for transformative action,” she said.

“Service delivery provision must be by well trained personnel with a proven track record. And any action must have a core principle victim centeredness and do no harm,” Ms Ali said.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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