Minister concerned with the increase number of crimes against children

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa. Picture: FILE

THE increasing number of crimes against children, particularly sex crimes against children has become a concern, says Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

Mrs Vuniwaqa, while revealing the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) statistics on child violence in Fiji, said last month there were 14 cases of rape and sexual offences whereby 10 of these were children.

“As a mother like my other Fijian mothers, I am very concerned about the increasing statistics on crimes against children, particularly sex crimes against children,” she said.

Mrs Vuniwaqa said data released from the ODPP, for the period of January 2017 to June 2018 showed that there were 308 victims of rape and sexual offences, 199 of these were children meaning that 64.6 per cent of the victims of rape and sexual offences were children.

“A disturbing fact is that a significant number of perpetrators of rape and sexual offences against children are known to the child victim or is a close family relative or one in a position of trust to the victim.”

Mrs Vuniwaqa also said an alarmingly high suicide rate continues to haunt Fijians.

“World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 2012, the number of suicidal deaths in Fiji was 32 with 22 being males and 10 females. “The suicidal death rates were higher in males for all age groups but most were those younger than 24 years.”

She said data from the Fiji Police Force showed that paraquat and chemical ingestion were the major methods of attempted suicide.

“Relationship failure has been noted as the main reason people commit suicide and attempted suicide,” she added.