Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing; they could be lurking in the shadows of your families as sexual predators
We should all seriously think about the remarks made by Lautoka High Court judge, Justice Thushara Rajasinghe, when he sentenced to 15 years in prison a man for raping and indecently assaulting his niece.
It was obvious from the facts disclosed in court that this man took advantage of the vulnerability of his young niece and sexually abused her. He betrayed her trust. Justice Rajasinghe said the accused had unleashed disgraceful exploitations on the victim when she was not in a position to see any assistance or find a way to escape. The girl’s mother had died, her father had remarried and the stepmother had not treated her well. So she escaped and sought refuge at the home of her uncle, her father’s younger brother. Justice Rajasinghe is absolutely right when he says offenders must be dealt with severe and harsh punishment. The number of sex crimes in families appears to be increasing at an alarming rate. It’s a shame on all of us as a nation because it indicates a gradual moral decay in our society.
All right-thinking citizens will condemn this sex crime in families. When our own children are not safe in our own homes, something is terribly wrong. The latest cases that have come before the court corroborate this trend. It is time we wake up and do something about it.
The unfortunate aspect of this issue is that the last persons we would suspect to be responsible are caught up in this sex crime. The other unfortunate episode is the impact of this crime on victims. We don’t get to hear much discussion about them because their details are suppressed for privacy and protection reasons. There is a paucity of research material or data on the impact of sex crime in families on victims in Fiji. So we are virtually flying in the dark when we talk about the magnitude of the problem here.
While international research reports are available on the subject, there are prevailing circumstances peculiar to our nation, that are not taken into consideration. One is the cultural perspective and the associated sensitivities that go with the subject. While public awareness campaigns have had some results in opening the door for more public discourse on the issue, they are not enough. There needs to be more done. Researches have revealed a myriad of harmful effects experienced by victims of sexual abuse. The impact on the individual includes psychological and emotional effects such as: intense fear of death and disassociation during the assault; anxiety and ongoing fears, feelings of low self-esteem, selfblame, and guilt; shock, confusion, denial, self-harm and even suicidal tendencies, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Studies have also revealed that the crime can disrupt and alter a victim’s work-life, leisure activities and community life. Furthermore, the studies say victims can suffer “secondary victimisation” through their experience of the response of the criminal justice system and health service providers and negative responses from friends, family and the broader society.
Another research finds sexual assault of an individual does not occur in a vacuum. Research on the ripple effects of sexual assault suggests that the effects extend well beyond the primary victims. It highlights the significance of sexual assault as a major social issue, affecting many more people, than we originally thought. When a child is sexually abused it scars the family and extended relatives. In the family, we need to be more vigilant and watch for tell-tale signs. We also need to prevent or avoid situations where the safety of children can be compromised. We must watch out for those wolves in sheep’s clothing ready to pounce on our innocent and vulnerable children as sexual predators.
Life goes on and I know she will be looking down from heaven and proud of me and I want to thank her for everything.
Team Fiji Men’s 7s Player