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ODPP stats 'alarming'

Vishaal Kumar
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

THE latest February statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is a clear indication of the need to change society's attitudes towards women and girls, says Fiji Women's Rights Movement executive director Nalini Singh.

Ms Singh said FWRM was deeply disturbed by the continued high prevalence of sexual violence against women, particularly against children.

"It's alarming that children make up the majority of the victims or survivors of sexual offence cases. In the latest February statistics from the ODPP, 14 of the 26 victims of the 48 separate incidents were under the age of 18 years.

"It's also troubling that a significant number of the perpetrators were known to the victim, as a partner, member of the family or relative.

"FWRM's research report analysed sexual offence cases referred by the Fiji Police Force to the Medical Services Pacific in 2015 and 2016 and found that 49 per cent of the victims or survivors knew the perpetrator before the incident as a friend, boyfriend or acquaintance.

"Sexual violence is a grave, cruel and severe breach of human rights that leaves long-term psychological and physical damage and it is devastating that it is those in positions of trust, perceived to be a loved one or friend, who could be the main perpetrators."

She reiterated that sexual violence was everybody's business and change could only begin by educating each other and raising awareness.

"We need to recognise the deeply-entrenched patriarchy in our cultures and religion and the systematic barriers women and girls face that inhibit their full and equal participation in society."

She said men needed to take more responsibility and be part of the solution, to raise awareness and promote safer spaces for women and girls.

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