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Fiji Time: 1:49 AM on Monday 21 April

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Internet scare

Nasik Swami
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

WHAT started off as innocent flirting on a popular social networking site turned into a nightmare for a 15-year-old Suva girl.

Last year, the teenage girl began communicating online with a 22-year-old man from Ba and eventually started an internet-based romance with him.

The unsuspecting youngster, after numerous email exchanges with the man, decided to visit him in his home town of Ba, taking along a small group of friends.

Upon reaching Ba and meeting the young man, the girl was allegedly defiled by him, leaving her confused and scared.

The case was reported to the Social Welfare office in Ba in October last year and was then handed over to the Fiji Police Force for further investigations.

"While the investigation continues to gather more information in relation to the incident, we are cautioning social networking users to be vigilant and cautious about the people they share information with," said police spokesperson Ana Naisoro.

"People must always be on the side of caution especially as information shared on such sites can sometimes be false or misleading."

Women's rights activist and executive director of the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre Shamima Ali said it was important to note that defilement could mean rape.

"Defilement can have an element of rape to it, I would say that there should be more education around the internet, the usage of internet and Facebook," she said.

"People get onto Facebook and they talk about anything and post all kinds of pictures and there are all these monsters lurking around and they will pounce on young girls who are doing it for fun and you know it's that age where they flirt and look for romance."

She said she was aware of the existence of people who preyed on children such as the 15-year-old teen.

"Parents themselves don't know about Facebook and the kids are a lot more educated and know how to do this on the internet."

Echoing Ms Ali's sentiments was Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni who said it was a frightening thought that what seemed only to be happening abroad was happening in Fiji.

"They have to be very careful about getting information from the social media because such cases have happened overseas and it's happening in Fiji as well," she said.

"This girl is 15 years old and her parents should also be responsible — going all the way from Suva to Ba — that requires some responsible decisions from the parents."

Dr Luveni said victims of such cases can seek assistance from the ministry if they are rejected by their family or could not live a normal family life.

"They can come to our office to seek assistance."