“Violence Against Children In Fiji” report says opportunity and security are key drivers of child abuse

“Violence Against Children In Fiji” report says opportunity and security are key drivers of child abuse

By Alipate Narawa
Wednesday 27/09/2023

The recent launch of the “Violence Against Children In Fiji” report states that drivers of violence against children are a combination of factors that make it possible for the violent and abusive act to be perpetrated against children including in the home setting.

The report says in the home setting “Opportunity” and “Security” are key drivers of child abuse and they combine in different circumstances.

The different forms of violence against children as noted by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Protection and the Child Welfare Unit are child neglect, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, domestic violence, corporal punishment, child labour, assault causing bodily harm, rape/attempted rape and abandonment.

The report says variations on these are found in the records of both the Police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

For example, the Police have a category of offences denoted as ‘Crime Against Public Morality’, under this category are child related specific offences such as rape and attempted rape, indecent assault, defilement of children under 13, defilement of young persons between 13-16, incest, sexual assault, and abduction of person under 18 with intent to have carnal knowledge.

The report says the ODPP has only Rape and Sexual offences, and Police also have a category for physical assault of children denoted as ‘Crime Against the Person’ which includes murder, attempted murder, infanticide, serious assault, acting with intent to cause Grievous harm, criminal intimidation and common assault. ‘Opportunity’ refers to the inevitable and immediate access to children that the home setting provides to parents/adult family members and the power that parents/adults have over children as both physically weak and dependent; in addition to the responsibility of adults (supported by both legal and traditional requirements of parenting) in children’s upbringing.

‘Security’ as the other key driver refers to the extent to which perpetrators of child violence, especially of sexual abuses, harbour a sense of impunity and feel secured in their intended action.

These include, fear (by the child of authority), silence (as obedience and therefore not report), powerless (unable to resist) tradition (that issues can be resolved informally through, amongst the i’Taukei, what is known as the bulubulu, a form of cultural appeasement) dependence (for daily living and sustenance) and also that members of the family and or village may desist involvement with the Police.

One of the researchers also says that the reason why the data is not precise is because the Ministry, Police, and ODPP have different definitions for certain cases.

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