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School safety concern

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE safety of children attending school has been brought into question after an incident in Nadi where two sisters were allegedly assaulted and sexually molested inside a school premises in January this year.

The girls, aged eight and 10, were allegedly attacked on separate occasions and their father has highlighted the need for schools to ensure they take the safety and security of children in their care seriously.

He also raised serious concerns about the manner in which police had handled the case.

He claimed that during an interview of his 10-year-old daughter — who is recovering from cancer — police spoke to her in a harsh manner and treated her unfairly, rather than as a minor who was a potential victim of assault.

"They did not allow my wife to be present during the interview and the person conducting the interview was a male officer and the manner he conducted the interview was very unprofessional," he claimed.

"If they had allowed my wife to be present, she would have explained to them my daughter's medical condition and the fact that they had a male officer asking her very intimate questions is something I cannot understand — no child should go through what she went through."

The father claimed the assault and sex attack took place in the school washroom in January this year.

"My eight-year-old daughter went to the washroom and when she returned to her classroom, she was crying and very upset," he said.

"The school headteacher called me and asked if I could console her because she refused to return to classes.

"When I got there with my wife, my daughter came running and said she wanted to go home. When we spoke to her classmates, they said she just kept crying when she returned to the classroom.

"We weren't aware of what had happened and it wasn't until a few days later, when my 10-year-old daughter was attacked in the same washroom, that my eight-year-old opened up about what had happened.

"We contacted police and had a medical examination done and the doctor at the Nadi Hospital confirmed that our eight-year-old had been the victim of a sexual assault.

"My 10-year-old daughter was not sexually attacked, but the person who attacked her jabbed a sharp object into her thigh, bit her cheek and warned her against telling anyone of what had happened inside the washroom."

The distraught father said his elder daughter described the person who had attacked her.

However, he claimed that when he presented a photograph of the alleged perpetrator to police, the investigating officer from the Criminal Investigation Department in Nadi accused him of interfering with the investigation.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said investigations into the incident were continuing.

"The investigation is still underway and while we do understand the father's frustration we, however, are still conducting the investigation and will not be able to release further details as it is at a sensitive stage right now," she said.

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