Sexual offences stats show we are failing our children: Low-McKenzie

THE recent sexual offences statistics released by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) indicates the growing epidemic of sexual offending against children in Fiji.

And Save the Children Fiji CEO Iris Low-McKenzie says “we are failing our children who need to feel safe and protected in their homes and environments”.

“As a country that prides itself on its religious and cultural values that are aimed at protecting children, these glaring statistics show these values are fast disappearing, especially when such offences are committed in the homes by close family members,” Ms Low-McKenzie said in a statement reacting to the statistics.

The recent statistics released by the ODPP for March 2019 alone indicated that more than 60 per cent of sexual offences were perpetrated against children under 18 years.

It recorded 19 cases of sexual offences to victims under 18 years, including 14 rape cases, nine cases of sexual assault, one case of abduction with the intent to have carnal knowledge and one case of attempted defilement.

“The figures and the growing trend of sexual offending against children were disturbing, particularly as in many cases the perpetrators are either known or related to the child. In 2018, 123 out of the 195 cases involved children as victims.

“We often remind the public that children’s welfare is everybody’s responsibility and we need to work together to ensure children feel safe, protected and are treated with love and care.”

She said more needed to be done to address this issue.

While Save the Children applauds the increase in sentencing tariffs on sexual offences against children, including the recent High Court decision that imposed a life sentence on a perpetrator of serial child rape, “we must continue to have stronger conversations in our families, churches, traditional communities on this issue”.

“Sexual violence and abuse of children not only affects the survivor but also impacts on other issues, such as child and parent relationships, student and teacher relationships, relationships between children amongst one another and gender relationships.

“This also affects societal relationships so we must address this matter with urgency now if we say that children are our future.”

More Stories