Sexual abuse of children must stop immediately.
Save the Children Fiji CEO, Shairana Ali has stated this adding they are horrified after the recent reports of sexual abuse of children in Fiji.
Ali says child sexual abuse is a serious violation of children’s rights and robs a child of the opportunity to enjoy their childhood while impacting them emotionally, psychologically and physically in the long term.
She says it is appalling, distressing and distasteful to learn of reports of children these past few months who are as young as three and four years old becoming victims of heinous sexual crimes.
The CEO also says the damages faced by children who are sexually abused is a lifelong one.
Recently the Fiji Police highlighted a case of a 12-year-old child who was allegedly raped by her 37-year-old uncle in Labasa as well as a 16-year-old girl allegedly raped by three men in Sigatoka.
Ali further says these atrocious acts committed on children must stop and as a society, we collectively hold our heads in shame that such abhorrent behaviors have become a daily occurrence in our society.
She adds equally concerning was the report released by the Office of the DPP in Suva of the February sexual crimes statistics that shows that of the 29 victims of sexual crimes, 18 were under the age of 18 years old, or children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and relevant domestic legislation.
In the DPP’s January 2023 statistics, there were 26 victims of sexual crimes of which 22 were under the age of 18.
These statistics are an indication of a huge problem that exists in our society and one that demands a concerted effort and collaboration of government and stakeholders to address.
The CEO is calling on the government and all relevant stakeholders to address the increasing number of sexual attacks on children.
She says it is time to have hard conversations about child sexual abuse, adding people must break the silence and the taboos around sexual abuse conversations especially with their children and begin to shine a light into this abhorrent practice.
Save the Children Fiji is urging members of the public to closely supervise their children and talk to children about sexual abuse and how to get help if they have been sexually abused.
They are specifically concerned to hear that majority of the perpetrators who have committed such crimes are known to the children and often, they are trusted and in positions of power and authority and are from within the family unit.
The CEO reiterates that every child has a right to safety and protection and a child is never responsible for the sexual abuse.
She says children may mask their emotions for a number of reasons especially if the perpetrator is known and is someone whom they trust the most, for example, they may love him as their grandfather but want the sexual abuse to stop!
Ali is calling on the State as the duty bearer and relevant stakeholders including parents, faith-based institutions, business houses, communities and NGOs to work together to ensure child safeguarding and child protection policies are in place and that we collaborate to ensure that children are protected from these heinous crimes.
She says as a society, we are failing our children and destroying their future if we are not able to keep them safe and protected from abuse and exploitation.
The CEO also says when communities work together and take action, they are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children.
All children deserve a good start in life and deserve to live a life of dignity and enjoy their childhood.
Ali further says child sexual abuse and neglect are serious social problems that can have long-term impact on health, education, opportunity, and well-being of children.
She adds we must address this scourge in our community now, whether through national platforms, community talanoa sessions, faith-based settings or even in family.
The CEO also adds these hard conversations must be had adding if you believe a child is in immediate danger, call Police on 917 or 919.
Children and youths can also contact Child Helpline Fiji on 1325 to seek the help of professional counselors.
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