Save the Children Fiji urges heavier penalties for crimes such as sexual offences

Save the Children Fiji urges heavier penalties for crimes such as sexual offences

By Mansi Chand
Wednesday 10/01/2024
[Image: File]

Save the Children Fiji has urged a swift and comprehensive effort by the entire community to denounce these offences in the harshest terms possible, to impose heavier penalties on those who commit offences on children.

It says that it is deeply concerned about the shocking and highly disturbing surge in reported cases of sexual offences against children, as highlighted in the December 2023 Rape and Sexual Offences Statistics released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

They say the alarming data reveals a distressing pattern of abuse, with nine individuals facing a total of 44 charges related to sexual offences in December alone and of these charges, 33 were recorded as rape, four as indecent assault, and three as sexual assault.

It adds particular concern is the fact that half of the incidents involved victims who were known or related to the perpetrators.

The Chief Executive Officer, Shairana Ali, says it is unacceptable for such heinous crimes against children to become a norm and says organisations that regularly assist communities in creating safe spaces for children require more funding.

Ali says the alarming data with nine individuals facing a total of 44 charges related to sexual offences out of which two were juveniles.

She says there were 10 victims where two were under the age of 18, and these cases reflect the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and prevent sexual violence against children.

The CEO says they are committed to working collaboratively with the government, law enforcement agencies and communities to address the root cause of child sexual abuse and enhance protective mechanisms.

She is calling for urgent and concerted efforts to strengthen the legal framework, improve access to support services for survivors and raise awareness to prevent the devastating impact of sexual violence on children.

Ali further says Fiji remains steadfast in its mission to ensure the safety, well-being and dignity of every child and will continue to advocate for policies and programs that protect children from all forms of abuse and exploitation such as the Collective Action to End Violence Against Children (CAEVAC) Program that currently run awareness programs in 24 communities advocating and raising awareness about the importance of child protection.

They are urging children to call the Child Helpline toll-free number 1325 available 24/7 or reach out to Save the Children Fiji on 3313178.

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