Suva-04/09/20 – On 1st September, 2020, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) released the Rape and Sexual Offences Statistics for August 2020.
Save the Children Fiji commends the ODPP for acting swiftly and filing formal indictments so that the perpetrators are charged and held accountable for their crimes.
Save the Children Fiji’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shairana Ali says that the August statistics are particularly confronting as the cases involve children. There were 15 cases out of which 13 were under the age of 18 years. Article 19 on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Fiji signed in 1993 states that children must be protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation therefore as a signatory of the Convention, duty bearers must ensure that children’s safety and protection is paramount”, Ali said.
‘As a child rights organisation, we are empowering communities to take ownership of children’s well-being. We are establishing child protection committees in communities to ensure that these committees act as custodians for children and monitor children’s well-being. The committees are responsible for preventing child abuse and report cases of abuse to relevant authorities.’ Ali said.
SC Fiji calls on the State and everyone to collectively commit ourselves to end violence against children now and in this case, child sexual abuse. Fiji, is well positioned to form a strong alliance on child protection that works closely with faith based organisations to address these issues. Let the best interests of the children of Fiji be of paramount importance and let us all work together to protect them from violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation and all other emerging issues, Ali concluded.
Children consulted during Save the Children Fiji’s analysis of child rights highlighted that they have witnessed children being abusive to their peers and also instances where children are physically violent to their peers. In school settings, when children experience or witness such behaviors, they may experience long lasting mental trauma and this may affect their ability to learn and ultimately, issues such as absenteeism from school, poor academic performance and dropping out of school altogether. Save the Children Fiji CEO, Shairana Ali stressed that it is crucial that everyone is able to spot such violent behaviors whether it is by a student, a teacher, a parent or a community member. It is everyone’s responsibility to look out for physical, sexual and emotional violence being perpetrated on children and take immediate actions to protect the child and inform the police. Any behavior that a child finds intimidating and humiliating and that causes harm to the child must be investigated swiftly. Every student deserves to be treated with respect and this is their basic right, Ms Ali added.
Save the Children Fiji strongly believes that every school and community must develop a culture where children’s rights are respected and upheld. Furthermore, every citizen must know that violence on children will not be tolerated and people are aware and take action to prevent abuse and exploitation of children and at the same time, are confident to report such incidences.
Parents and teachers including children must be informed and educated on the ‘zero tolerance policy on violence or abuse in schools’. There is a lot of work that is still needed in schools to ensure that schools are fully compliant with this policy and that teachers are equipped with the skills to address student behaviours in an effective way. A child friendly approach is needed to educate children on the harmful effects of bullying their peers and parents must take responsibility and dedicate time and educate their children on good morals and family values.
Contact Details for further comments or clarifications.
Shairana Ali, Chief Executive Officer
PH- +679 8613237