NATION

Review Sex Case Statute Of Limitations

It is unfortunate that our laws currently have certain limitations with relation to sexual harassment and it is time we revisit limitations in relation to sexual harassment and violence. It is imperative to note that the victim had sought assistance and advice from two institutions last year seeking their guidance but to no avail.
10 Jul 2021 16:11
Review Sex Case Statute Of Limitations
Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (HRADC) director Ashwin Raj.

While we respect the independence of the judiciary, there is a pressing need to review the statute of limitations which puts a time bar on cases relating to sexual harassment.

The Director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission made this call following a recent court ruling in which charges relating to an alleged sexual harassment case was dismissed after the defence submitted, highlighting contravention of section 187(2) of the Crimes Act, which requires a complaint relating to a summary offence, which has a penalty of maximum 12 months or less, to be complained of, or a Police report lodged within 12 months from the date of the alleged offence.

It is unfortunate that our laws currently have certain limitations with relation to sexual harassment and it is time we revisit limitations in relation to sexual harassment and violence. It is imperative to note that the victim had sought assistance and advice from two institutions last year seeking their guidance but to no avail.

She had approached the Ministry of Employment in May 2020. Her complaint was not filed by the ministry and she was advised that she could only lodge a complaint once she had left her job.

The victim had also approached the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) last August. Documentary evidence procured by the Commission shows that the complainant had contacted the co-ordinator of the FWCC, four times via phone seeking an audience with her between 17 August 2020 and 11 September 2020.

The victim had also emailed the FWCC her complaint but received no response from the FWCC after that.

The victim was dismissed on 3 August 2020. The Commission is in possession of documentary evidence that shows that prior to her dismal, the complainant had raised alarm with her then employers about the continued mental torture she was suffering but no advice or help was given to her.

The victim had approached the HRADC in May this year and the Commission advised her on her rights available under the Fijian Constitution and our domestic laws.

There is a need to understand why victims of sexual violence do not come forward and what difficulties they face when powerful people are involved.

For some victims of sexual violence, they require time to gain courage to come forward. Some do not even know what recourse and remedy they have available under our laws. Therefore, there is a pressing need to revisit the statute of limitations and the need to take cognizance of the power differentials between victims and perpetrators.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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