Rape cases reveal the disturbing prevalence of the sexual abuse of the girl child and worsening situation for sexual violence in Fiji - FWRM

Rape cases reveal the disturbing prevalence of the sexual abuse of the girl child and worsening situation for sexual violence in Fiji - FWRM

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 28/02/2022
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Nalini Singh. [Image: File]

The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement says the average age of all victims/survivors of rape cases finalised in Fiji’s High Courts in 2021 is 15 years old - the youngest at 3 years of age.

The average age of the perpetrator of these crimes is 36 years old.

This is according to the latest Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls Rape Case Analysis 2021 published by the FWRM.

FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh says these findings from the 22 rape cases finalised in our high courts last year reveal the disturbing prevalence of the sexual abuse of the girl child and worsening situation for sexual violence in Fiji.

The paper is a continuation of the annual rape cases analysis undertaken by FWRM since 2016 as part of their ongoing research and advocacy on strengthening Fijian’s women’s access to justice.

Singh also says the way criminal trials of sexual offences are run indicate society’s attitudes towards sexual crimes, of which women and girls are overwhelmingly victims of.

She says gender bias and harmful stereotypes often creep their way into the most public of spaces.

Singh says COVID-19 has also impacted access to justice by women and girls.

She says the courts were essentially closed during lockdowns resulting in fewer cases being heard and disposed off.

FWRM also recommends specialized courts with faster, streamlined processes as the way forward during such crisis situations to ensure faster turnaround times for sexual violence cases.

Singh says in 64 percent of these cases, the victim/survivor knew the accused.

A permanent domestic violence restraining order was not issued in 6 cases to protect the victim/survivor where there was a domestic relationship between the perpetrator and the victim/survivor, and where the accused was found guilty of rape.

Singh says according to the 2021 annual statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, an alarming 203 people were charged with a total of 461 counts of serious sexual offences as of 31st December 2021. There were 196 victims of whom 136 victims were under the age of 18 years

She says year after year, women and girls make up almost 100 percent of victims/survivors of sexual crimes.

FWRM also published the Trends Analysis between 2016 and 2021 which revealed that throughout this period, the average age of victims/survivors has been consistently under the age of 17 years.

The age of the youngest victim/survivor continues to be under 5 years.

FWRM believes that continuous gender sensitization training is needed to challenge harmful practices against women and girls.

They also acknowledge the Courts Registry and the High Courts for their transparency and publication of these cases on PacLii and ODPP’s publication of annual sex disaggregated data on sexual offences.

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