Editorial comment – Rape stats a concern

Fiji Women's Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali during the Lens @177 interview in Suva. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

It is never easy to accept reports of children being raped.

So there will be concern over reports that child rape this year has increased to 70 cases compared with 24 cases reported last year.

Out of the 70 cases, the Central and Northern divisions recorded the most with 38 reported at the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Suva branch and 20 at the Labasa branch.

FWCC co-ordinator Shamima Ali is quoted saying they recorded more cases of child rape compared with adult rape.

This, she said, was mind-blowing and shocking.

The saddest part, she said, was that the perpetrators were family members and people they knew.

Ms Ali said the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which started on Friday, enabled them to have the United Nations recognise violence against women as a violation of human rights.

“It is actually a political issue and recognised as a violation and so the UN urges member nations to do something about it,” she said.

“This movement has got us to be recognised over 30 years which has got everyone, faith-based organisations, Government and communities, to do something about it.”

The numbers, and the increase in rape stats are a concern.

The question is what are we doing about it? Understandably organisations such as the FWCC are already focused on critical areas they feel need to be addressed.

What matters though is how the rest of us are challenged to do something about this issue.

There are things we know about this issue.

We have the stats, and they are growing which is a worry for everyone.

We know that a lot of the perpetrators were family members, people the victims knew.

We need to be aware of other attributing factors.

We need to appreciate the role we can play to fight this.

On November 18 this year, the UN reported that experts had urged intensified efforts to combat persisting prevalence of violence, exploitation, abuse, trafficking, torture and harmful practices against children, and stressed the importance of healing and justice for victims and survivors.

Marking the first World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence, the experts made a statement.

Among other issues raised, they said child sexual exploitation, abuse and violence was a global emergency, which required a concerted global response.

Millions of children worldwide, according to the UN, continue to be the victims of such crimes.

In the global context of multiple challenges, it said, such as the post-COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change and disasters, inadequate action or measures to address the root causes, such as rising inequalities, deepening poverty, and structural discrimination on intersecting grounds, continue to exacerbate the situations that expose children to exploitation, abuse and violence.

As we reflect on 16 days of activism, we are reminded about how important it is for us to be aware, and to do something about the information that we have.

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