NATION

Stop Victim Bashing, Says Minister For Women, Vuniwaqa

High Court Judge Justice Daniel Goundar highlighted in his sentencing that the victim was subjected to further victimisation by Nasilasila fans, after she had accused him of rape.
25 Oct 2019 10:00
Stop Victim Bashing, Says Minister For Women, Vuniwaqa
Amenoni Nasilasila (right) outside the High Court in Lautoka on October 23, 2019. Inset: Minister for Women, Mereseini Vuniwaqa

The Minister for Women, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, has strongly condemned the actions of people who continue to make sexist, misogynist and derogatory comments on social media, about the victim who was raped by Amenoni Nasilasila.

On Wednesday, former 7s rep Nasilasila was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for the offence.

However, this did not stop social media users from attacking the victim by blaming her for what had happened.

“The condemnation of the victim on social media with the use of sexist, misogynistic and derogatory comments says more about the commentators than about the victim,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

“The court has made a decision in the matter – on the guilt of the accused and the penalty to be imposed. There is an avenue of appeal open to the accused if that’s what he wants to do. Third party comments by members of the public will not bring anything positive but lend more unwarranted negativity to an already sensitive situation.”

High Court Judge Justice Daniel Goundar highlighted in his sentencing that the victim was subjected to further victimisation by Nasilasila fans, after she had accused him of rape.

“She did not suggest that the accused is personally responsible for the actions of his fans. However, she blames his status as a sports celebrity for the attacks on her by his fans.

“It is indeed a sad predicament on our society to further victimise the victim because the accused was a sports celebrity.

“His status as a sports celebrity is neither a mitigating nor an aggravating factor. I am mindful that he is to be treated like any other ordinary citizen without giving any prominence or weight to his celebrity status.

“The legislature has prescribed life imprisonment for the offence of rape. The intention of the legislature is clear, the court’s duty is to denounce rape and deter the offender and others from such crime,” Justice Goundar said.

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj said the sexist, misogynistic and derogatory online comments leveled at the victim were shameful.

“Sadly, it puts the victim on trial again.”

Mr Raj also pointed out a particular comment on a Facebook forum questioning Justice Goundar’s sentence.

“The comments in relation to the learned Judge must be examined as it may be tantamount to contempt of court. I hope the administrators of the forum are held accountable.”

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Shamima Ali also condemned the actions of social media users who continue to victimise women who are victims of sexual assault.

“It is so bad that it lacks compassion and love for people.”

She called on women to rise above the nonsense and “that it is never your fault”.

“Call the Crisis Centre. We will provide you with the counselling and the support that you need,” Ms Ali said.

Fijians can lodge complaints with the Police Cyber Crime Unit, if they find themselves being victimised or bullied on social media.

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback: ilaijia.ravuwai@fijisun.com.fj

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