THE Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has issued a strong statement against the alleged beating of students of the Natabua High School hostel last weekend.
FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali said such violent acts and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation should not be tolerated across all sectors of the community, including places of learning.
"It is alleged that this act was carried out by senior prefects. If true, this shows that such brutality is being condoned by those in leadership positions in the school," she said.
"We have seen throughout the years the brutal victimisation of members of the transgender community, and this is not the first time we have heard of senior prefects abusing students because of their perceived sexual orientation.
"We have received numerous reports in the past of incidents such as these occurring in other schools around the country and it is time the State puts in place policies that forbid these kinds of acts by students, and hold those responsible accountable for their actions."
Ms Ali said teachers should also be taken to task if found to be suppressing these reports.
"According to the Child Welfare Amendment Decree, teachers have also been designated along with police officers, legal practitioners, and welfare officers as those individuals who have a legal and mandatory obligation to report child abuse to the permanent secretary for Social Welfare if such reports are brought to their attention," she said.
Ms Ali also called on the authorities to investigate the incident further.
"We call on the Ministry for Education to investigate the incident that occurred at Natabua High School immediately and to use this case and other related incidents as an example to educate students, teachers and school officials to change the existing tolerance that people have for violence against members of minority groups."
Questions posed to Natabua High School principal Sashi Kumar were referred to the Education Ministry's media unit.
Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal said he would not make further comments on the alleged incident as the matter was now with police.