Opinion

Sexual Offences: We Can No Longer Sit Back As Spectators And Do Nothing About This Evil

Sadly, rape and sexual offences appear to be steadily on the rise.The danger is that they could be accepted as the norm if we do not do anything about it.
08 Feb 2020 12:59
Sexual Offences: We Can No Longer Sit Back As Spectators And Do Nothing About This Evil

In a High Court in Suva recently rape cases dominated the cause list.

In fact they were the only cases listed for the day.

Every month the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions releases crime statistics for the previous month.

Sadly, rape and sexual offences appear to be steadily on the rise.

The danger is that they could be accepted as the norm if we do not do anything about it.

When that happens, they slide into our culture with their pervasive influence.

We must not allow that to happen. Rape and sexual offences, especially against women and children are despicable crimes that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

No woman or child deserves to suffer the indignity and the emotional and psychological trauma as victims.

We need to wake up and stop the notion that this is normal, and we just have to live with it.

We cannot afford to live with it because of the enormous damage it is causing to families and communities. We need to take steps to address and fix the problem. We must take a hardline approach to make would-be offenders think twice before committing the offences.

The courts have done everything within their power to highlight the problem and dish out heavy sentences to offenders as a deterrent. Despite that, cases are still coming before the courts.

In December 2018, Judge Justice Daniel Goundar delivered a landmark ruling in the High Court in Suva.

He sentenced a 74-year-old man in wheelchair to life imprisonment for raping his daughter and granddaughter. This was the first time a rapist got life.

The man had raped his daughter from the age of 10 years and impregnated her at 14.

The child who was born out of the rape was also raped by the man when she turned 10 years old.

Justice Goundar said that this particular rape case was one of the worst to come to court in Fiji’s history.

The man started the sexual campaign in 1982 when the first victim was 10-years-old he was 38.

He had raped her on various occasions inside their home and in the cane field in the Western Division.

After she had given birth, she married and lived a happily with her family.

Justice Goundar highlighted that the man continued to rape her when she was married and pregnant with her husband’s child in 1992.

For the second victim, the man started the sexual campaign in 1997 until 2013.

Justice Goundar said for the two victims, the demon was real in the form of their own father.

He told the man: “You preyed on your biological daughters when they were minors.”

Justice Salesi Temo has also come out strongly against sexual violence against children.

When he sentenced a man to 15 years in prison with a non-parole period of 14 years for abducting and raping a six-year-old boy, Justice Temo said the harsh punishment was a lesson to those who came before the court or followed on similar charges.

“The sentence is designed to punish in a manner that is justice in all circumstances, to protect the community from people like you, to deter would-be offenders and to signify that the court and the community denounce what you did to the child victim on the day of the incident,” Justice Temo said.

Judge Justice Aruna Aluthge reinforced what the other judges said.

He said during one sentencing that the heinous crime of rape was prevalent in Fiji.

He said the offenders must be punished to denounce and to send a clear message to the community that no such actions would be tolerated by courts.

Justice Aluthge said rape was a serious crime and by prescribing life imprisonment for the offence, the law makers expected the court to impose harsher punishment on rape offenders.

“Not only must the offender but potential offenders be deterred.

“The offender must be severely punished to ensure safety and security of all women.”

Judge Justice Daniel Goundar, in another sentencing, said it was very difficult to comprehend why a grown-up, married man would turn to a child for sexual desires.

Justice Goundar said rape of a child by a family member was serious.

“Using force is a serious crime,” he said.

“The conduct of the accused is a serious offence.

“It is the court’s duty to denounce such conducts and offenders and protect our children.

“The victim was sexually abused by the man who is an adult relative is a serious breach of trust.

“The victim will have to endure the cultural stigma for the rest of her life,” Justice Goundar said.

Judge Justice Sunil Sharma highlighted that it was the duty of the court to protect children from sexual exploitation of any kind.

That was why the law had imposed life imprisonment as the maximum penalty, he said.

“There has been an increase in sexual offences involving offenders who are known to the victims and matured adults. It is shocking, sickening and appalling to note the manner in which the accused had breached the trust of the victim.

“Rape of a child is one of the most serious forms of sexual violence, and offenders should be dealt with severely there is no two ways about it.

“Children are entitled to live their lives free from any form of physical or emotional abuse.

“When family members sexually abuse children, violating the Domestic Violence Act, they should expect condign punishment to mark the society’s outrage and denunciation against such conduct.”

TOMORROW: Pornography identified as one of the causes

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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